Picking a Name

alphabet-close-up-communication-conceptual-278887There are two parts of picking a name: the creative part of choosing the perfect name to represent your business, and legally claiming it.

For creative types, the first part is the fun part. For everybody else, it’s stressful, confusing, and tedious. You can easily sit there floundering over picking a name while your whole business enterprise waits. What to do?

First, it really helps to get some outside help on this. Not professional, necessarily, just outside input, since you inevitably start thinking within very narrow parameters. You never know who will come up with a winning name, or something close.

Second, think whether you want to seem local. Every town and state has local mottoes, birds, plants, sayings, and associations that have come to represent it, so those names may be positive associations to include in your business’ name.

Third, you’ll need to settle on some  word to convey the technological aspect of your business: systems, computers, and solutions are the big three.

Fourth, beware portmanteau, the combining of words. They tend to sound casual and faddish (think: bromance or chillax) although sometimes they enter the common usage and stay (e.g. cyborg, motel.)  In my observation they usually sound ridiculous for computer businesses, like you just slapped a positive-sounding adjective to a computer-ish sounding word, like Systanamics.  These names also have subjective impressions. You might think it sounds great, but to everyone else it sounds as ridiculous as jackalope or turducken.

Fifth, most business names are lousy. Microsoft has two of the worst associations you would want for anything except for muffins: being small and soft. Try to avoid anything that sounds ludicrous, has negative associations in your area, or is too much like another business, and then pick the name and move on.

Finally, you’ll claim your business name when you register your incorporated business with your state’s Secretary of State or, if you are not incorporating, when you fill out the DBA Name on your Business License.

You usually can’t pick a name that’s already taken. So you’ll need to search your Secretary of State’s database of business names. If you’re applying for a trademark or service mark for your name, logo, or saying associated with your business, you will also need to check your state’s trademark/service mark database, and the U.S .Patent and Trademark Office’s one as well.


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