If you’re starting a business, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is what to name your new company. While the way you choose to register your business will impact the choices you have when it comes to picking what to name your new business, sometimes you may need a little help with the initial brainstorming.
I’ve compiled a list of tools and resources for helping you name your business, from name generators to sites that will tell you if your current name is already in use. Let’s get started—this is the fun part!
Tools and resources for naming your business:
1. Play around with keywords using a Thesaurus
Using a thesaurus is a great jumping off point for naming your business. If you have an idea that you want your business to convey, but the wording doesn’t quite fit, a thesaurus can help suggest alternatives that might make a great business name.
Let’s say you want to open up a boutique coffee shop in your neighborhood. Using your thesaurus to type in “coffee” will give you synonyms like “caffeine,” “cappuccino,” “espresso,” “java,” “joe,” and so on.
If you’re more of a visual person, the Visual Thesaurus is also a good place to start. You’ll be given a word map for the word you enter, in which you can explore and generate new ideas.
Visual Thesaurus lets you explore word maps with your chosen keyword.
Just a heads up: Visual Thesaurus gives you a few free searches, and after that you can sign up for a 14 day trial.
2. Try business name generators
I could have written an entire article on business name generators, but that might have been a little one-note.
Suffice it to say: There are a ton of business name generators for you to play around with.
Here are a few that come highly recommended and that (based on my informal testing) seemed like good starting points:
NameMesh: NameMesh will give you a variety of suggestions in a variety of themes, such as “short,” “fun,” and “SEO friendly.” Again, they are tied to available URLs.
Panabee: You’ll get the usual list of names with available URLs, as well as ideas that are a play on the words you’ve chosen, have suffixes added, and lists of related terms. Plus, you’ll also be able to check available social media usernames, which is a must.
Naminum: In addition to the similar features the sites above offer, Naminum lets you browse through its list of randomly generated names, which may help get ideas flowing.
Hipster Business Name Generator: Okay, this one’s just for fun, but it’s pretty clever. While you won’t be able to enter in any specifications, if you’ve ever dreamed of opening up an ironic shop with a name like Wishbone and Sword, you’ll get a kick out of this site—and hey, maybe find some inspiration!
3. Run SEO-based keyword searches
If you’re familiar with SEO, you’ll know that there are lots of ways that you can determine what your customers are searching for online. While this is generally used for advertising purposes and to draw customers to your site, you can take advantage of SEO tools even earlier, and use them to help you name your business. Here are some to try:
Ubersuggest: Enter a keyword in the search bar, and Ubersuggest will do just what the name implies—suggest related keyword pairings based on internet search. Not only will it help you generate ideas, it will also show you what popular search terms related to your keyword are—and picking a popular search term will help your business in the long run.
Google AdWords Keyword Planner: Similar to Ubersuggest, using the keyword planner will give you an idea of what your potential customers are searching for, which will allow you to tailor your business name to fit the search volume, or just spark new ideas.
4. Make sure your chosen name is available for use
Run a domain name lookup. The Network Solutions WHOIS database will tell you if your chosen domain name is available, as will many of the sites listed above; however, if you have brainstormed your business name through different means, you’ll want to make sure that an applicable domain is available.
Namechk is another database that will tell you if your domain is available, and so will GoDaddy and many more.
Check the legality of your business name. Make sure that your potential business name isn’t infringing on any existing trademarks.
In addition, Google has a search feature that allows you to search existing patents, to make sure you aren’t accidentally using anyone else’s intellectual property.
5. Try these fun sites for inspiration
When coming up with your business name, it’s sometimes a good idea to put practicality on the back burner for a moment and just brainstorm. Here are a few sites that will help you do just that.
Werdmerge: This “portmanteau generator” is a fun way to get ideas flowing. Type in your keyword, play around with the word combinations, and see if something strikes your fancy.
Fakeword: Plenty of businesses have used names that aren’t words at all; just look at Zillow,Odeo, and Plaxo. Maybe a creative, made up word will be just what your business needs to stand out!
If you’re looking for more unique ways to combine words and phrases with examples from real businesses, this article from The Name Inspector has some great lists.