The Creative & Practical Checklist for Choosing a Business Name

Did you realize that the United States has 33 million businesses? It's difficult enough to come up with a distinctive business name without adding in the fact that the name you choose might affect your company's success. Oh, and there's no going back after you've named it (unless you want to swim in paperwork and buy all new business cards and collateral).

There's a lot of pressure in this room, but don't be concerned. Because in this piece, I'll teach you how to come up with a business name you'll love, including not just creative ideas and brainstorming suggestions, but also the practical and legal measures to follow to ensure you get it correctly.

How to come up with a business name: suggestions for brainstorming

This is the fun part where you get the creative gears turning. Here are some tips, prompts, and ideas to help you get a fruitful business naming brainstorm.

1. Create a narrative outline.

Yes, I understand that this is a pain in the neck, but it is something that you must do. It doesn't need to be flawless—that isn't the purpose. This isn't meant to be read by anyone. It is up to you to write (or type). Because you'll be surprised at what comes out when you write about something instead of talking or thinking about it. Write about how you came up with your company concept, why you began or want to start it, what problems or opportunities emerged, and where you want it to go, depending on where you are in the process.

This will get your wheels moving and will also come in helpful when it comes to drafting your mission statement and about us page later on.

2. Conduct a self-assessment

Now it's time to consider whether any personal characteristics may be included in your business name. Spend some additional time writing out your:

  • Interests

  • Nickname

  • Favorite movies, songs, quotes

  • Childhood

  • Values

You can also use:

  • Your personality

  • Inspiration

  • Things that are important to you – such as people, places, things.

FUN FACT: Back in 2016 when I started my business, trying to find a name for my business drove me crazy! Today, many people ask how I came up with the name, “Salty Red Dog Marketing.” The RED DOG part came from having an (almost) 15-year-old red dog named Danny. You can check out a picture of my pup HERE. The SALTY part came from growing up at the Jersey Shore and sailing during my childhood summers. So there you go! I choose things that I was passionate about.

3. Research other companies in your field

This method is advantageous in a variety of ways. To begin, it will advise you on what not to call your company if you want to stand out. Second, it might inspire you with new thoughts. Third, it will provide you with some overarching concepts to adhere to. Most business names, as we'll see later, necessitate some amount of similarity, since you don't want to be too unusual to be considered foreign.

  • Look for directories that are tailored to your industry.

  • For other states or countries, look for your company category on Google maps.

  • Search for "list of [industry] firms" on Google.

4. Examine the names of other companies in your field

There are a plethora of techniques for naming a company, regardless of sector, so don't limit yourself to looking for business names in your area.

This motivates me...

  • Is a Cucumber Salon as Cool as a Cucumber?

  • Weight Loss as Light as a Feather?

  • Are you as happy as Punch Tiki Bar? Do you have a boxing gym?

  • Are you looking for a law firm that is as reliable as rain? We'll get to that later, just joking).

5. Have an emotional brainstorming session

Consider how you want/will make your consumers feel as a result of your products and services. A compelling and appealing business name may be created from a single word that evokes emotion. Consider the following scenario:

  • Customers who shop at an online pet store want to feel proud, relieved, joy, laugh, excited, and loved.

  • Members of the gym want to feel powerful, competitive, progressed, appreciated, and achieved.

  • Students in speech therapy want to feel safe, confident, joyful, and like they belong.

6. Check out a thesaurus

Fill in the thesaurus with the terms you've come up with so far in your brainstorming, such as emotions and basic values. There are a plethora of unique, elegant, and entertaining words that may be used as business names.

7. Think about mythology, movies, and folklore

Do you have any favorite movie characters or quotations that you may use in the name of your company?

Do some study to find people from history and pop culture that can represent notions relevant to your business.

8. Use a business name generator to come up with a unique name for your company

I'm not a fan of this concept, and I doubt you'll be able to come up with a business name utilizing one of these. They can, however, provide you with useful ideas or at the very least a few chuckles.

If you’re curious to try this, you can try Shopify’s Business Name Generator HERE.