Picking out a business name is a big deal for a small business. Many entrepreneurs approach the process by asking themselves questions. These questions relate to the business name before they start to brainstorm. Some of these questions may include the following:
- Does this name reflect my brand? Will customers be able to associate my offerings and services with this business name?
- Can I spell and pronounce my business name?
- Do I need a long business name or a short name?
- Is this name unique enough not to be confused with another business?
A great business name should be able to answer these questions. This name identifies your business, and its offerings, to the world. Make a big impression by following these simple guidelines that can help you figure out the name of your business. Then, you’ll be able to secure that name by filing to register a trademark.
Tips for Naming a Small Business
1. Use Relevant Keywords
Let’s use the example that you have a telehealth practice based in Los Angeles. Your business name may include keywords, like “telehealth” or “Los Angeles.” Not only do these keywords explain a bit more about your offerings, they also allow your business name — and subsequently, its domain name — to become a bit more SEO friendly. Potential customers typing these keywords into search engines will be able to discover your business. This helps to increase not only your website traffic, but your search engine ranking.
Keywords are not a requirement in the business naming process. However, it may be helpful to use them depending on your offerings and the target audience you’d most like to reach.
2. Simplify Spelling
Some entrepreneurs choose to give their small business an elaborate business name. It sounds impressive and cool. That’s great for the brand’s image, right?
Take a moment to step back and examine this business name. Can you easily spell it out? Do you have trouble remembering how to spell it? Do not overcomplicate the spelling process. Pick a name that has five to 10 letters and at least one consonant. Avoid using hyphens, numbers, and any other special symbol that further draws the name out and confuses your customer base. Following these tips may leave you with a slightly different name than the one you started off with, but you may find this simplified version is actually a lot cooler than its overwrought, slightly more confusing counterpart.
3. Say The Business Name Out Loud
Business owners need to know what their business name sounds like when spoken out loud. After speaking the name of your business out loud, have a friend or family member say it out loud.
Listen to how they say this name. Can this name be easily pronounced? Does the name sound aesthetically pleasing? Is it meaningful? Does it convey your brand’s offerings?
Your business name will appear everywhere, from print store signage to logos to social media platforms. It’s important that the name looks, and sounds, appealing to your target audience and reflects exactly what you have to offer in this industry. If you find you need to return to the drawing board and brainstorm some more on the look, spelling, and sound of your business name, go ahead. Don’t feel the need to rush through this process.
However, if your business name has met all the guidelines you may be ready to register it as a trademark.
How to Trademark a Business Name
The name of your business is its trademark. A trademark distinguishes a business and its visibility to the world. Once a trademark has been registered, the owner retains exclusive rights over the mark. This ensures nobody else conducts trademark infringement or attempts to pass it off as their own creation.
Conducting a Name Search
Before you file to register a trademark, it’s important that you conduct a name search first.
You may conduct the search with the help of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)’s trademark database. Or, you may work alongside a third-party trademark registration service.
Conducting a name search allows you to see if there are any registered trademarks or pending applications for the name you wish to trademark. If there are, you will not be able to trademark the business name. However, if there are no trademarks pending for your specific business name then the name is available to use.
Filing Trademark Registration
Once you know that your trademark is unique and available for use, then you may file a trademark application to register the mark. Remember to pay the filing fee associated with the application. Within a few days, the business name is a federally registered trademark.
What comes next after your trademark has been registered?
Remember to purchase the proper domain name (your name search should allow you to determine whether this is also available) that matches your trademark. You will also need to reserve the proper social media handles for your business. If some of these are not available under your new trademark, it’s okay to make a few subtle variations, such as using the word “the” or an underscore, for the brand’s social media accounts.