15 tips for picking a good name for your small business

Getting your small business’ name right is important – it creates a first impression of your business, and you won’t get many chances to change it later. Here are 15 of our top guidelines for choosing a strong small business name.

  1. Keep the small business name memorable.
  2. Keep the business name as short as possible.
  3. Be creative, but not so wacky that your audience will get confused.
  4. Allow room for future growth.
  5. Use synonyms or words starting with the same letters to find something catchy.
  6. Go online to search – try trademark searches, a Nuans name search, or even get ideas from a business name generator like the one created by Shopify.
  7. You may not be able to get a .com of your exact name, but look for alternatives like .ca and .net. You can also get a descriptive URL, such as waveapps.com.
  8. Look for a name that you can use consistently across various social media platforms – you may need to add a descriptive word here too, like with the URL example above.
  9. Stay away from restricted small business names – names that are too similar to existing businesses, are considered obscene or inappropriate, or suggest a connection with the Royal Family or the government.
  10. Choose a name that evokes the feeling of your brand.
  11. Think of a name that will distinguish you from competitors in your industry.
  12. Decide how much the name will describe your product or service. This doesn’t have to necessarily be right in the company name – it could always be used as a tagline or catchy phrase.
  13. Think of some distinguishing names that could work for your business and write them down. Don’t second-guess yourself – get creative!
  14. Take some time away from your list of potential names and focus on something else for a while.
  15. After some time, return to your list and start the process of elimination.

Real business name examples

Here are some examples how of real-world businesses got their names.

Nike – Nike is the Greek goddess of victory, ideal for a business so focused on athletic apparel! Interestingly, the brand started out as “Blue Ribbon Sports.” Not terrible, but Nike is certainly more impactful.

Google – A “googol” is an obscure math term that refers to the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes, which suggests the large amount of information available to users of the search engine. The name of the business is a serendipitous misspelling of “googol.”

Marimekko – The Finnish clothing, textiles, and decor brand got its name from the middle name of its cofounder (Maria) and the Finnish word for dress (“mekko”).

BlackBerry – When the company was still called Research in Motion, they brought out their soon-to-be famous BlackBerry device, named because of the way the keyboard’s buttons looked like a blackberry.

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