Understand your brand
Your brand is what drives people to buy from you instead of a competitor, and it's something you need to consider when picking a business name. Think deeply about the values, perception, vision, content, and overall image you want to project as a business and use these insights to help you settle on a business name.
Branding your business is a somewhat nebulous concept, but it's needed to convey the products or services your business sells. If you're running a hobby shop, you may want to include those words in your business name for immediate recognition of your commercial activity and brand. A hobby shop seeks to sell supplies to people who have hobbies and need components, ingredients, and other supplies to work on their craft.
You may only wish to sell to a certain type of hobbyist in order to provide your knowledge and expertise alongside supplies. In that case, specifying the type of hobby in the name helps you attract customers who are seeking what you sell. An example of a business name could be "John's Woodworking Hobby Shop". You convey everything about your brand in four words.
Have a brainstorming session
When you're stuck or having trouble coming up with good business names, sit down with people whose opinions you respect and have a brainstorming session. Encourage everyone to put any idea on the table, regardless of how silly or unusual it sounds.
Once you have enough in the way of name ideas, you can start refining and bouncing ideas around to determine feasibility and fit. Brainstorming ideas for names also helps you get a feel for their effectiveness in attracting attention from others.
Make sure your business name is easy to pronounce
As a general rule, your business name should be easy to pronounce and read. It's more difficult to build brand loyalty when customers have a hard time pronouncing the name and refer to your business as "that business that sells X and Z" instead. You can substitute one letter for a similar sounding one in the alphabet if you like, but make sure that it's easily understood and pronounced.
For example, maybe you intend to operate an indoor skate park and use the word "Skatez" instead of "Skates" as part of the name. The pronunciation is the same even though the spelling is different, and customers immediately recognize the fact that roller skating is an activity offered by your business.
Make your business name unique
You want your business name to set you apart from your competitors but still convey your line of business. For example, an engineering firm wants their industry as part of their business name. They can use the names of the principals along with the word "engineering" in the business name to make it unique, differentiate it from other engineering operations, and make it clear as to the nature of the business and its owners.
Consider a logo to accompany your business name
Logos create a visual identifier that's ultimately associated with your business name. They're used as a type of visual shorthand when using the full business name isn't feasible, as well as to build your brand identity. Just think of Apple’s logo—without even seeing the company’s name, you can instantly recognize the brand by their logo.
A logo can be used in a multitude of ways when working on a marketing campaign and build on name recognition for your business. Logo design can be a fun part of creating your business name, so don't hesitate to get creative with different logo design ideas.
Decide whether to localize your business name or not
Localizing your business name consists of using the name of a street, locality, neighborhood, city, or state. There are pros and cons to using a local name as part of your business name. One of the cons comes in the form of pigeonholing your business to a neighborhood and making it more difficult to expand to new locations. On the pro side, using a local name can help you build a local audience or even identify the product you're selling to a larger audience.
For example, let’s say you sell hot dogs and related foods. You decided to name your business Chicago Hot Dogs because you're selling Chicago-style hot dogs. This may not stand out in the city of Chicago, but it may stand out in other areas of the country because a Chicago-style hot dog is a regional item in the same fashion as a New York City pizza.
Make your business name memorable
Good business names are ones that are easily remembered by your customers. You want to pick a name that's got a ring to it, as the saying goes. Work on creating a name that catches the eye and ear of potential customers and makes it easy for them to share by word of mouth. A business name doesn't have to be catchy to be memorable, but being clever can help you stand out from the competition.
Choose an available business name
This can be the most challenging aspect of picking a business name, especially if you're entering into an industry with a lot of competition. It's advisable to come up with as many potential business names as possible. This way, you'll have backups in the event the business name you pick is already taken or too similar to one that's been registered. Picking a name that's too similar to one that's already in use can lead to confusion among your target audience or even legal battles in some cases.
Your business name is part of your brand, and you don't want a lawsuit forcing you to change your business name after you open your doors. It confuses customers and can cause you to lose business, forcing you to start over again from scratch. Your state has a business name database that you can search through and help you come up with business name ideas. It also helps you avoid picking a business name that's already taken.