How to Come Up With a Business Name

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn what makes a successful business name and get some ideas for generating your business name.

[Featured image] A new small business owner sits in her home office and brainstorms potential business names, holding a pencil to jot down potential names as she looks for inspiration on her laptop.

Being a business owner comes with a considerable amount of decision-making, but perhaps some of the most consequential decisions come early in the process when you’re just starting your business.

Not long after you come up with your initial business idea, you’ll start taking the first steps toward creating your company branding with your business plan, a document where you’ll outline key aspects, such as a company overview, goals, and long-term strategy—and where you’ll note the first touchpoint between your business and potential customers: your business name.

In this article, we’ll offer a checklist of considerations as you’re creating a business name, as well as provide some creative ways you might come up with a name that fits your business.

Creating a business name: Checklist

Your business name will be central to your branding, and oftentimes, it can be the first piece of information potential customers hear about your business. So, it’s important to make sure that your business name communicates the number one thing you want your customers to know about your company.

Here are some tips for coming up with a business name that works in your favor:

1. Check its availability.

Legally, business owners must register their business, along with their business name, in order to begin operations. Additionally, using a name that is already associated with another company or product can be confusing to your potential customers.

Before building your branding around a specific name, check that your desired name isn’t already registered to another company, and make sure that you’ll be able to establish an online presence with a website domain and social media accounts. 

2. Consider your branding.

Your business name will reflect an aspect of your business identity to your potential customers. The name you choose should accurately describe your business and communicate your company values, goals, or offerings. What emotions do you want your business name to evoke? What associations would you like to encourage?

3. Keep it simple.

Encourage people to talk about your business by choosing a name that is memorable and easy to pronounce. Consider your target customers and the language they are likely to use to help determine whether your desired name will stick with them as they look to return to your business a second or third time and refer their friends.

4. Think ahead.

Think about your long-term plans and consider whether the business name you’re choosing is flexible enough to cover all of the products and services you plan to offer in the future. If it doesn’t, you may want to choose a separate name for your business and your current product or service.

Watch this video from the Wharton School of Business Entrepreneurship Specialization to hear more about these key points, along with examples of successful business names.

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In this lecture, you'll learn some important considerations for coming up with a business name and hear examples of successful names.

Learn more about how to create a brand strategy.

Ideas for naming a business

Naming your business is a creative process, and that process can look different for every business owner. More often than not, it will take a bit of time to land on the right name for your business.

If you’re having trouble figuring out where to begin, perhaps a brainstorming session can help. Here are some ideas to generate a list of your potential business names:

  • Think about your story: What inspired you to start this business?

  • Incorporate your values: What’s your mission? What’s important to you and your business?

  • Check the thesaurus: What words are related to your business or your core offerings?

  • Use descriptors: What do you want people to feel when they think about your business?

  • Draw inspiration: Think about recognizable characters and figures that relate to your business, such as Greek gods and goddesses.

  • Consider names or nicknames: Many founders name their businesses after themselves or loved ones.

  • Translate to other languages: Are there any words in other languages that resonate with you?

  • Pull from Latin roots: Latin roots can be quite recognizable since many familiar English words are derived from the ancient language.

Once you have your list of words, consider ways you might combine, condense, or otherwise alter them to best express your brand persona. As you narrow down your choices, you may also find it helpful to survey people within your target customer base to pick the perfect business name.

Next steps

Learn more about launching your own business with the Entrepreneurship Specialization from Wharton School of Business, available on Coursera. Practice key skills and strategies from anywhere with an internet connection.

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