How to Name Your Startup Company

Choosing the right name for your startup is an important and, at times, overwhelming decision — but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s take some of the weight off your shoulders with the best tools, techniques, and tips for naming your startup. Additionally, once you’ve picked the perfect name for your startup, we are here to help you with instructions on how to then register your unique startup name.

Step 1: Use Naming Tools and Brainstorming Techniques

There’s no need to stare at a blank sheet of paper, hoping the perfect startup name will come to you. Get the creative juices flowing with all of the available tools and brainstorming techniques such as business name generators and mind mapping.

Best Startup Naming Tools

  • Business Name Generator: TRUiC’s free business name generator allows you to search for available startup names by keyword, location, and industry. 
  • Business Name Generator by Industry: TRUiC’s business name generator provides names for a variety of industries so you can find an available startup name that aligns with your business goals. 
  • Business Name Generator for Local SEO: TRUiC’s business name generator for local SEO fine tunes your startup name options to optimize your site traffic locally using your city, state, and keywords. 

Brainstorming Techniques for Naming a Startup

  • Mind Mapping: All you need to use this brainstorming technique is a pen, paper, and a single word that inspires you. From this word, branch off with other, related ideas. As you brainstorm, you will continue to branch off of the ideas you have to create a map of potential startup names. 
  • Freewriting: Essentially, freewriting is where you start writing and don’t stop — similar to the stream of consciousness writing style. This is a no-judgement purge of ideas that allows you to flush out all ideas without stopping to second guess yourself. 
  • Word Association: Start with a word and keep adding words that associate with it. For example, you could start with the word dog then bark then tree and so on.
  • Use a Thesaurus: A thesaurus provides synonyms and related concepts. Search a word that relates to your startup idea and identify corresponding words to use in your startup name. 

Startup Name Quick Tips

  • Keep it short 
  • Make sure it’s easy to pronounce and spell
  • Make it memorable 
  • Ask others for their opinion
  • Avoid too-specific names that could limit your startup as it grows
  • Make sure it sounds good out loud, not just on paper 

Step 2: Follow the Naming Rules for Your Startup Structure

There are four common types of startup structures: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, and corporation. Each of these structures has different naming rules that must be followed. In addition to this, rules often vary state by state. Here is what you need to know about naming your startup based on these business structures:

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is an informal business structure owned by one individual who is solely liable for any debts that may be accrued by the business. Unlike many other business structures, sole proprietorships are not required to register their business with the state. By default, the owner’s name is the legal business name of a sole proprietorship. To conduct business under another name, you’ll need to file for a DBA, we’ll get to that later.

Partnership

A partnership or general partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship in that it is an informal business structure that offers no liability protection. However, rather than being owned by one individual, a partnership is owned by several.

A partnership’s name should be listed in the partnership agreement. However, if there is no name listed in this agreement the legal business name will consist of the owners’ last names.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is a formal legal business structure that offers tax benefits as well as personal liability protection for its members. It is by far the easiest formal business structure to form and maintain. Every state has different naming requirements for LLCs, to learn the LLC naming rules for your state, use these state-specific guides to naming your business.

Here are some common rules for naming an LLC:

  • Your startup’s name must include “limited liability company” or an abbreviation such as “LLC” or “L.L.C.”
  • You startup’s name can’t imply that your company is associated with any government institution by using words such as “FBI” or” State Department”
  • Your startup’s name can’t include words that require licensing such as “attorney” or “university”

Corporation

A corporation is also a formal legal business structure; however, it offers its own set of tax benefits as well as personal liability protection for its shareholders. Every state has different naming requirements for corporations. To learn the corporation naming rules for your state, state use these state-specific guides to naming your business.

Here are some common rules for naming a corporation:

  • Your startup’s name must include one of the following terms or their abbreviation:“corporation,” “incorporated,” “company,” or “limited.”
  • Your startup’s name must be unique in your state
  • You startup’s name can’t imply that your company is associated with any government institution by using words such as “FBI” or” State Department”
Consider Using a Doing Business As (DBA) for Your Startup Structure

Using a DBA, also referred to as a trade, assumed, or fictitious name, allows you to operate your startup under a name that isn’t its legal business name. A DBA is beneficial if your startup is already a formal business entity that is being rebranded or otherwise retooled and you’d like to use an alternative name for your startup. Additionally, sole proprietorships and partnerships often conduct business using a DBA as an alternative to operating under the owner’s personal name.

Basically, DBAs can help startups rebrand, maintain their privacy, and increase credibility with customers. Filing requirements and fees vary by state but typically involve completing paperwork and paying a fee that ranges from $10 to $100. Alternatively, you can take some of the weight off your shoulders by using a DBA filing service.

Step 3: Check if Your Startup Name Is Available

A startup name isn’t perfect unless it’s unique. Not only do most states require that your business name be unique, but a distinctive name sets your startup apart from competitors and represents your startup’s brand. There are three searches you need to do in order to ensure that your startup name is available: business name search, domain name search, and federal trademark search. 

Business Name Search

Every state is equipped with a business name search that can be accessed through the state’s website. By using this tool, you can search the business names in your state to confirm that the name you’ve chosen is unique, a requirement in all states. 

Domain Name Search

Your startup name may be available at the state level, but you want to make sure the corresponding domain name is as well. If you use a domain name generator, you can bypass this step by generating only domain names that are currently available. 

Federal Trademark Search

Finally, you need to confirm your startup name isn’t federally trademarked in order to use it without legal repercussions. To do this, search your startup’s name using the Federal Trademark Database search tool. 

After Naming Your Startup

Learn How to Register Your Startup Name

Unless you’re a sole proprietor, you need to register your startup name with your state. This process varies by state and by your business needs. These are the four most common steps you’ll need to take in order to register or change your startup name: 

  • Reserve your business name. 
  • Form an LLC or Corporation. 
  • File for a DBA. 
  • Amend your formation documents to accommodate your startup’s name( if you’re changing the name of an existing business).

Design a Logo for Your Startup

A well-crafted logo is essential to accurately representing your startup’s brand. Your startup’s logo is used on everything from press releases to marketing materials which makes this one of the most important branding decisions you’ll make as an entrepreneur.

Launch a Business Website

Every startup company needs a website. Your startup’s website acts as a homebase for all information related to your business. Therefore, it should be user-friendly, SEO optimized, and include a mobile version.

Create Marketing Materials for Your Startup

Now that you’ve got your name, logo, and website squared away your next step is to create materials you can use to market your startup. This could include business cards, brochures, posters, digital media, and more. 

The best marketing materials for your startup depend on the industry you’re in as well as your target market. For example, if you’re operating an ecommerce startup, an email or social media marketing campaign may be the best choice, while another business type may benefit from distributing informational brochures in their area.