Council Post: 15 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business (2023)

What's in a name? A lot, as it turns out – especially when it comes to naming your business.

Choosing your company's moniker is one of the most important decisions you'll make when you start a new business, as it sets the tone for all your future branding initiatives. For better or for worse, your business name helps create a first impression with potential customers and investors, so it's not a decision that should be taken lightly.

While it's not impossible to change your business name once you've filed your legal paperwork and set up your digital properties, it's much easier (and less costly) to choose the right name from the get-go. Below, 15Forbes Agency Councilmembers share the top mistakes entrepreneurs make when naming their business and how to avoid those errors.

Avoid common mistakes so you don't have to rename your business a few years down the road.

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All photos courtesy of individual Forbes Agency Council members.

1. You Haven't Considered Branding And Timing

While the business name is important, what matters most is the image you create around that name. Whether a name is perceived well or not mostly depends on perception management in the first six to 12months. Additionally, a business nameis never set in stone and can be changed, so if you are waiting for the right name to cross your mind, don't. It's better to start now than wait and lose momentum. -Christina Baldassarre,Zebra Advertisement

2. It's Too Hard To Say, Hear Or Spell

When you are naming a new business or product, make sure the name is easy tosay (If it is difficult to pronounce, nobody will remember it.), easy to hear (for example, remember the letter "s" can sound like the letter "f") and easy to spell (spelling your name out every time will get old quickly.) Following this simple formula will help you find the perfect name for your business or product. -Brent Lollis,Creative State

3. You Failed To Do A Trademark Search

One of the worst things that can happen to a new business is that the owners spend time and money promoting a certain name, only to find out someone else has been using it. Even if they haven't registered a trademark, someone might own therights simply because they were using it first. A quick Google search is an absolute must and you may want to supplement it with a professional trademark search. -Gil Eyal,HYPR!

4. Your Name Is Too Descriptive

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Ensure to stay away from a name that’s too descriptive to avoid costly rebranding as your core focus may shiftin the future. The uncertainty surrounding a rebranding effort could cost you time, money and even loyal customers. At the very least, you’ll confuse them. -Fabian Geyrhalter,FINIEN

5. Your Name Is Too Generic

How many companies do you know that are ABC Services or XYC Technologies? If you just said the name, would you be able to tell what industry you are in? Being too generic will cause people to overlook you if you sound like every other company out there. Get to the heart of what you do. What's your story? -Debbie Williams,SPROUT Content

6. You Haven't Researched Competitor Names

Many businesses don’t realize the power of brand recognition and will have almost the same exact name as another business, especially in the same industry. The name should be creative and strategic, sets you apart from the pack, and can summarize what the company does. -Solomon Thimothy,OneIMS

7. You Spell Your Name 'Creatively'

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when naming a new company is trying to spell the name "creatively." The issue with having a name like Xobni, Bawte or Wesabe is that you'll always have to spell it when you say itbecause it isn’t spelled how people hear it. This may not only cause confusionbut could also cause an issue with potential customers finding your business. -Ryan Pezzotti,

8. It's Too Long For Twitter

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When creating a business, your complete digital marketing strategy should be laid out first. This includes creating social handles across all platforms that are identical, so consumers can find you on any platform by typing the same handle. If your business name is too long to be a handle on Twitter, your handles will need to be adapted on other platforms as well.Make it less than 15 characters. -Kelly Samuel,Qode Media

9. You're Following A Short Term Trend

Do your best to select a name that will stayrelevant for years.Many phrases are catchy, so they get overused and get annoying within a few years. Businesses can influence trends, but they don't have complete control over them. Trends frequently develop associations with certain groups or stereotypes,but those stereotypes don't always overlap with your intended target audience. -Ahmad Kareh,Twistlab Marketing

10. You Chose Your Name Based On Domain Availability

Choose a brand name that has recognition and alignment with your industry. Consumers, Google and other search engines are now more comfortable with domain name endings like .oi and .co, so don’t feel compelled to name your business based on which .com is available. Before pulling the trigger, make sure to use a tool likeknowem.comto make sure other social handles are available. -Dan Golden,Be Found Online

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11. People Can't Tell What You Do

The most common error I see in the creative spaceis getting a little too creative with your name. You shouldn’t have to think “I wonder what this company does…” when you hear its name. The name should directly or indirectly clue people into the types of services or products you provide. -Leila Lewis,Be Inspired PR

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12. Your Name Is Too Cute

If you fall into the trap of spelling words wrong, using odd words to make a rhyme or trying to play off words with different meanings, you are setting yourself up for headaches. Of course, you want to have a business name that is memorable and lends itself to unique brandingbut getting too "cutesy" with the name can lead to long-term issues. -Katie Harris,Spot On Solutions

13. You're Overthinking Your Name

Here's the thing with company names:people always overthink them.Your name does not give your company value. Itworks the other way around — your company (and people's perception of it) gives your name value. Your brand is much bigger than a name (or a logo, or a font, or a color, for that matter). Don'tmakeyour name do theheavy lifting — it's only one small tactical expression of your brand. -Kelli Corney,Mightily

14. You Haven't Thought Through Your Name's Associations

When coming up with a business name, a company may fail to thoroughly assess its meaning and associations. Ask questions such as: How will others perceive the name? Which competitors havesimilar names? And of course, is the domain available? Start with those; there are more. Leverage foresight when starting up, because hindsight doesn’t get you anywhere. -Bernadette Coleman,Advice Local

15. You Haven't Tested Your Name With Your Target Audience

Naming a company may be one of the most important strategic decisions a company will make. Once you have the name (or names) you are considering, take the extra step and test it with the target to make sure it delivers the image you want and it resonates correctly. And make sure that the target can easily pronounce the name; this will eliminate market confusion. -John Gumas,Gumas Advertising

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What should you not do when naming a business? ›

How to Avoid Common Business Naming Mistakes
  1. Make Sure the Business Name is Not Taken. ...
  2. Ensure the Name is Not Too Long. ...
  3. The Name Should Not Be Difficult to Spell and/or Pronounce. ...
  4. Select Business Names That Are Unique. ...
  5. Avoid Offensive Names. ...
  6. Make Sure to Use Different Brainstorming Techniques.
27 Aug 2021

Should my business name be one word or two? ›

Branding experts believe you should keep your business name short. This helps to keep it catchy and memorable. Try to avoid business names with more than two words or with more than three or four syllables in total.

What factors should be considered when choosing a name for your business? ›

7 Tips for Choosing a Business Name
  • Follow Your State's Naming Guidelines. ...
  • Don't Pick a Name That's Too Similar to a Competitor's Name. ...
  • Choose a Name That People Can Spell and Pronounce. ...
  • Make Your Name Web-Friendly. ...
  • Be Memorable But Not Too Unique. ...
  • Pick a Name that's Consistent With Your Brand. ...
  • Don't Limit Yourself.

What should I put at the end of a business name? ›

Must contain the word "corporation", "incorporated", "company", or "limited," or the abbreviation, with or without punctuation, "corp.", "inc.", "co.", or "ltd.". A corporate name may include words in any language but must be written in English letters or characters.

What are some of the areas to avoid when selecting a business name? ›

Five Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business
  • Choosing a “difficult” name. Whether it's difficult to spell or difficult to pronounce, leave it well alone. ...
  • Choosing an unavailable name. ...
  • Being too “local.” ...
  • Playing it too safe. ...
  • Not getting feedback.
8 Mar 2017

Can I put Co at the end of my business name? ›

Typically, your business's name must end with the words “Limited Liability Company,” company” or “Limited.” Or you can use abbreviations like “LLC,” “L.L.C.,” or “Ltd.” Usually, you can even opt to abbreviate the words “Limited” and “Company” as “Ltd.” and “Co.” (Most people just stick with “LLC”.)

Can my business name be one word? ›

But a lot of one word brand names are already trademarked. That means you may not be legally allowed to use them. So when you have a one word brand name, you have to run a trademark search to make sure your brand name is available before you start the brand and pay for branding. Otherwise you may have to rebrand.

Can I name my business anything? ›

Generally, as long as no one else in your state is using that business name, you can call your company whatever you like.

How many letters should your business name be? ›

Name Length & Syllables

The general rule is that your name should be 1-2 words and no more than 3 syllables or 10 letters. This rule might be too inclusive for some names and too exclusive for others.

What is the best letter to start a company name? ›

The highest point letters (least often used in English) are Z, Q, X, J, K. These are memorable letters for people because they are so seldom used. Use them in your brands.”

How do you name a company example? ›

Keep the name short, simple, easy to write, and easy to remember. "The companies you admire typically have names that are short, simple, easy to write, and easy to remember." Kimbarovsky observes. Examples include Apple, Chanel, Virgin, and Southwest. "Obscure business names are often difficult to remember," he says.

How do I know if my business name is already taken? ›

Searching and securing a company name
  1. Step 1: Visit CIPC Site.
  2. Step 2: Register. Register as a Customer. ...
  3. Step 3: Payment. ...
  4. Step 4: Login. ...
  5. Step 5: Preliminary Search. ...
  6. Step 6: Successful name selection. ...
  7. Step 7: Confirmed name reservation.
16 Apr 2019

What are the six factors to consider in naming a business? ›

All photos courtesy of individual Forbes Agency Council members.
  • Identify Your Brand Identity, Then Pick A Name. ...
  • Create Something Short And Unique. ...
  • Keep It Simple. ...
  • Check For Trademark Issues. ...
  • Make It Easy To Read And Say. ...
  • Consider Longevity And Mission. ...
  • Avoid SEO Issues. ...
  • Consider A Non-Dictionary Word.
19 May 2017

Does the name of your company matter? ›

Improved Odds of Success

Your customers or investors fluency with the name you choose to give your business can make a huge difference when it comes to the ultimate success of your overall venture. A study on behalf of the Society of Personal and Social Psychology, Inc.

What is the most important criteria in developing a brand name Why? ›

A good brand name should be easy. The brand should be easy to pronounce, easy to understand, and easy to spell. You want your name to engender trust and be shareable, not to create uncertainty or confusion.

How many syllables should a business name be? ›

A good name should be short – two to four – syllables and easy to pronounce. Warren Diggles, president and creative director of Diggles Creative, said short names are ideal, because they tend to be very brandable and easy for consumers to remember.

Should I name my business after myself? ›

Including your own name in your business' brand creates a personal identity that resonates with customers and clients. “I am the person who my clients work with from meeting to wedding day to final delivery of finished products, so it is me who my clients associate my business with the most.

Can I use group in my company name? ›

However, the word “Group” is no longer deemed to be a silent word, which means that if the proposed name would be the same as an existing company name but for the word “Group”, this would no longer prevent you from registering the name.

Why do people say co instead of company? ›

"Co" is just an abbreviation for the word "company." A company is an association of people working in a commercial business. This can be a limited liability company, sole proprietorship, or another structure. Abbreviating "company" as "co" does not have a specific meaning regarding a business's legal structure.

Can I call my small business a company? ›

Can I put the word “company” in my business name? You can only use the word “company” in your business name if your business is a corporation.

What does co stand for in a business name? ›

Co. is used as an abbreviation for company when it is part of the name of an organization. [business] ...the Blue Star Amusement Co.

How many words is a company name? ›

Most company names in this sample come in within the 3-5 word limit. From our sample the median average was 4 words while the most common (mode) was 3 words. Of course at the outer edges of this range you do get some extremes but over 47,500 of the 50,000 companies we looked at had company names of 5 words or less.

How do I name my brand? ›

10 tips for effective brand names
  1. START WITH THE END IN MIND. As with all marketing, a clear brief is critical to success. ...
  7. LESS IS MORE. ...

What is a one word name called? ›

A mononym is a name composed of only one word. An individual who is known and addressed by a mononym is a mononymous person. In some cases, a mononym selected by an individual may have originally been from a polynym, a word which refers to one of many names for a person or an object.

What are restricted names? ›

Restricted Name means any Acquired Intellectual Property constituting a Trademark. Restricted Name means any Borden Mark and any Trademark included in the Assets.

How do I protect my business name as a sole trader? ›

Registering a trade mark is another way to protect a business name. A trade mark provides the owner with exclusive rights to market or sell goods and services using this trade mark, and the right to prevent others from using the same or similar marks to market their products.

Can 2 businesses have the same name? ›

Can Two Companies Have the Same Name? Yes, however, certain requirements must be met in order for it to not constitutes trademark infringement and to determine which party is the rightful owner of the name. These requirements include: Are the businesses in the same industry or geographic location?

Why is a business name important? ›

A registered business name helps customers find, identify and connect with your business.

How short can a name be? ›

The minimum length of a name is one letter.

Should I put numbers in my business name? ›

Use numbers in your name

It's best to keep it as short and memorable as possible. Using numbers at the beginning or end of your business name is a creative way to get around using a word that you really want. Just add a number at the beginning or end and you've got a new, original business name.

How do you create a unique name? ›

13 Strategies to Create Character Names
  1. Pick a One Word Name.
  2. Go Wild With Humor.
  3. Make the Name Match.
  4. Reverse the First and Last Name.
  5. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
  6. Use Your Name.
  7. Use an Anagram Generator.
  8. Add a Prefix or Suffix.

What is catchy name? ›

If you describe a tune, name, or advertisement as catchy, you mean that it is attractive and easy to remember.

Can two businesses have the same name UK? ›

Your name cannot be the same as another registered company's name. If your name is too similar to another company's name or trade mark you may have to change it if someone makes a complaint. Your name must usually end in either 'Limited' or 'Ltd'.

How do I check if a name is registered? ›

Before you apply, you should search the USPTO's trademark database (Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS) to see if any trademark has already been registered or applied for that is: Similar to your trademark.

How long does it take for a company name to be approved? ›

The Name Reservation application takes 2-3 working days. However, If there is a delay from CIPC due to excessive workload, the process could take longer.

Can I name my business anything? ›

Generally, as long as no one else in your state is using that business name, you can call your company whatever you like.

Is it illegal to use a different name for business? ›

In trademark infringement cases, courts look at whether consumers would be confused by two businesses that operate in the same industry. Essentially, if your name is likely to cause consumer confusion because it's the same or like another business name, then you cannot use that name.

Can I choose any business name? ›

If you follow the company names guidance and observe the restrictions, a company name can be anything you choose - as long as it's not the same as or too similar to another name on the register.

Do business names have to be unique? ›

You will need a unique name for your company when you file the paperwork to formalize your business structure.

What is business name example? ›

For example, a company's trade name is Mike's, but their legal business name is Mike's Corporation. A business can opt to have their business name and trade name be the same. A trade name may also be called a doing business as (DBA) name. It's the name the public sees.

What are restricted names? ›

Restricted Name means any Acquired Intellectual Property constituting a Trademark. Restricted Name means any Borden Mark and any Trademark included in the Assets.

How do I protect my business name as a sole trader? ›

Registering a trade mark is another way to protect a business name. A trade mark provides the owner with exclusive rights to market or sell goods and services using this trade mark, and the right to prevent others from using the same or similar marks to market their products.

What are the rules about business names? ›

Trademark Law and Naming Your Business
  • Choose a name for your business. It should be distinctive, not generic, and should not be close to the name of anyone in a similar business. ...
  • Search for others using your chosen name or similar ones. ...
  • Consider registering your chosen business name as a trademark.

Can 2 businesses have the same name? ›

Can Two Companies Have the Same Name? Yes, however, certain requirements must be met in order for it to not constitutes trademark infringement and to determine which party is the rightful owner of the name. These requirements include: Are the businesses in the same industry or geographic location?

Can someone sue you for having a similar business name? ›

If you have determined that a confusing similarity exists and that similarity has, or is likely to cause confusion, you may seek legal action. The most common result is that a court will require one of the companies to stop using that name through an injunction.

Can I use a trademarked word in my business name UK? ›

1 Answer. Show activity on this post. If you use an identical or similar trade mark for identical or similar goods and services to a registered trade mark - you may be infringing the registered mark if your use creates a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public.

Can I use Royal in my business name? ›

Using Royal names or Royal residences on products, rather than as part of a Company's name, is illegal if the use of the name suggests the goods have some connection with or are supplied to a Member of the Royal Family.

How do I name my business UK? ›

Company names – the legal requirements

The name of your limited company must not: be exactly the same as an existing name on the UK companies register. be too similar to the name of an existing company on the register. be offensive in nature nor include any words that are likely to constitute an offence.

How do you check if the name of a business is taken? ›

In most states, the website of the state business filing agency includes an online entity name check tool. You can use the online tool to search business names and find out whether another business is already using the name you have chosen.

Does a business name really matter? ›

When creating a company, you need to reduce the barriers keeping customers and investors from buying into your vision. If your company name is hard to pronounce, difficult to spell, or makes little sense in relation to your product, you've unknowingly created a barrier to your own success.


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