Choosing a business name

by Admin
Updated: July 21, 2018

Choosing a business name needs to be done with great care and can be surprisingly challenging

Nothing defines a business more than its name. Once set, it can only be changed at great expense including loss of brand recognition and customer loyalty.

Here are some guidelines that help with choosing a business name.

Double-check the name as a domain name

For an Internet domain name, your business name is rendered without spaces and in a case-insensitive way, i.e. all lowercase.

For example, if your name is Tom and you’re a therapist, a business name of “Tom Therapist” seems fine until you realize your domain would be tomtherapist.

I know someone who made this mistake for real in her choice of e-mail address.

Make sure you can get the dot com

Commercial businesses must own the dot com of their business name.

Check for bad reputation

Some domains have been abused. They may have been associated with sending spam or hosting malware. While it’s possible to restore a reputation, it takes time and a fair bit of work.

Don’t choose a name that’s already in use

Even if you’re in a different market, it still creates an unnecessary conflict over Internet search results and at worst can land you in trouble for infringing intellectual property rights.

This includes misspellings. Use a search engine to check, e.g. Google will come up with “Did you mean: suggestion

Descriptive vs abstract

A business name that includes what the business does is best, e.g. “ABC Widgets“ definitely deals in widgets.

A business name that hints at what the business does is good, e.g. “ABCsoft” probably develops software.

A business name based on a related name, e.g. “John Smith” is easier to remember/recognize if you know John Smith.

A business name that is abstract (Zazzle, Etsy etc.) provides most flexibility.

A business name that is associated with something else can be difficult to distinguish, e.g. “Amazon“ was associated with the Amazon (rain forest) and Amazons (warrior women), but not Internet book sales.

I used to run a company specializing in windows - the wood & glass type. Fortunately, we didn’t depend on search engines for our business.

Avoid repeated letters as much as possible

In order to keep things simple and avoid filtering out people who don’t search apostrophe-s, it is best to keep things singular.

For example, “Jones’s Specials” implies a domain name of jonessspecials which is tricky. I’d recommend something like “Specials by Jones” instead.

Similarly, if you have a Llama business in Roswell, although the double-Ls can’t be avoided, “Llamas of Roswell” - llamasofroswell - is going to be a better choice than “Roswell Llamas” - roswellllamas.

Avoid ampersands, hyphens etc.

Ampersands have special meaning in URLs. If you are “Smith & Jones,” smith& won’t work - it’s better to be consistent and stick with “Smith and Jones.” If “Smith & Co.,” go with Smith.

If you are “Smith-Jones,” few people will bother to type the hyphen in a search. Even fewer will remember to type it in a domain. Go with “Smith Jones,” and smithjones.

Avoid characters that aren’t in the western alphabet (a-z).

Be unambiguous in conversation

“Nike” is only unambiguous if it’s pronounced wrong. Otherwise, did they say or or something else?

Check that your name isn’t bad somewhere

This can be difficult, especially when other languages have to be considered.

Make sure your social media handles are available

You probably don’t want to be “XYZ” if XYZ is already active on Facebook, Twitter etc. because some people will presume you’re connected.


Six to twelve characters is good. I&m not a fan of dropping a vowel (Flickr, Tumblr etc.).

More info

“ Intellectual Property Infringement, Misappropriation, and Enforcement ” at

“30 Unintentionally Inappropriate Domain Names” at

Check availability at

Domain blacklist check at

Internal links

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