Your business name needs to convey your brand, expertise, value and possibly the type of business you’re in. Get the name right and your marketing and branding will flow easily – pick a wrong name and no one will remember who you are or what you do.

Business names can be abstract, so they convey a specific element of your business, or informative, clarifying what it is that you do. However, your branding and marketing strategies will be built around your name and what it portrays too, so it’s even more important that the name is right for you! So what do you need to consider when picking your company name?

#1: Decide what you want the name to portray

The idea is that your name will pinpoint what you do or who you are. It saves you having to clarify and explain what you do, and makes your marketing and branding so much easier.

For example, you may want to add your location to your name – a great idea, unless you DON’T want to be limited to your location and wish to spread further afield. The same applies to what you do within your business – don’t use specific job criteria in your name, unless you’re sure that’s the only thing you’re ever going to be offering your customers. Specifics such as location and what you do are brilliant for SEO, but not so great if they limit your ability to branch out and expand.

#2: Use your own name or create a business name?

There are obviously pros and cons for using either, however using your own name will immediately make your business appear more personal and transparent, but it won’t illustrate what you actually do as a business and can appear TOO amateur.

Using a company name will immediately make you seem more experienced and enable you to charge more but it can also seem impersonal and is often less memorable.

#3: Check trademarks and Companies House

Once you’ve narrowed your name down to 4 or 5 ideas, carry out a trademark check to ensure it’s not already in use. You can always hire a specialist trademark company or attorney to do this for you.

Next, you’ll want to check with Companies House to see if anyone else is using that particular name. The last thing you want to happen is deciding and using a name, only to find someone else already owns the rights to it and can potentially sue you for using it!

Once you know the name is available for use, you can then check online domain registers, to see if you can get a matching domain name for your company.

#4: Test out your name selection

Before you make a final selection test the shortlisted names out on your ideal customers and existing contacts. You’ll want to pick a name that sits right with your customers and asking for their input will help you do this.

#5: Things to avoid

Never ever use limited (Ltd), limited liability partnership (LLP) or public limited company (plc) after your name, unless you are legally allowed to do so. The same applies to words that are considered sensitive, offensive or that may imply your company is of national importance (i.e. government, British, national or international).

By using these five steps you’ll ensure the name you select is right for you, is available to use and will last you well into your business future.

What steps did you use to create a name? Did you brainstorm a selection of names or did you always know what name you were going to use? Did you opt for a business name or did you use your own name? How easy or difficult did you find branding your business, as a result? Why not share your experiences in the comments box below?