How to come up with a business name and secure a domain

8 MINS
Faith Lisondra

Naming a business used to be easy. Pick a name, ask your attorney to conduct a search to make sure no one else in your industry was using it, and off you go.  

Once the internet came along, the entire process changed. Now you must check social media handles and domain name availability, in addition to completing a domain history search and brand name reputation search, to ensure the name you want does not have a negative history.  

You may find that various domain names were purchased but are not being actively used. But for a hefty price (tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars), the domain name can be yours. This is often called domain flipping, and not many small businesses can afford to shell out $10,000+ for a domain name to the person who purchased it 10 years ago!  

But fret not, there are tips to make this painstaking work easier. if you’ve been tossing and turning on how to come up with a business name, this article will cover a few suggestions:  

Understanding business names and domains   

Choosing the right business name and domain is like setting up your storefront in the online world. Your business name is the sign above the door – it’s what people see first. It’s essential your domain, your online address, matches this name closely. This link makes it easy for your target audience to find and remember you, blending your physical and online presence smoothly. It’s all about making your brand clear and accessible in both worlds.  

Steps to Finding a Good Business Name  

Naming your business isn’t about just finding a catchy name or choosing from a list of great business name ideas. You also need to ensure it’s unique and legally available. This means doing your homework to avoid potential legal issues down the road. It’s a mix of creative thinking and practical vetting to land on a name that’s not only cool but also clear to claim as your own.  

Ready to get started? Ensure you tick off the following steps:   

Step 1: Gather ideas  

Start by brainstorming for a good business name. Think about your business’s values, services, and the impression you want to make. Jot down words, phrases, and concepts that resonate with your brand.  

Step 2: Research and refine  

Once you have a list of catchy business names, research each name. Check if they’re already in use or trademarked. You can also check in with the following organizations to see if your business name is already taken:   

  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS): This is the premier tool for checking registered trademarks. It’s comprehensive and free to use but can be a bit complex for beginners.  
  • ICANN Domain Name Registration Data Lookup: Search for existing domain names that match your business name. Not all businesses register domains, but it’s a good initial check.  
  • Office of the Secretary of State (State-specific): Each state maintains a business registration database. Search for existing businesses with your proposed name in the state you plan to operate.  

You can also use online tools to ensure the uniqueness of your potential names. Online directories like Yelp and social media sites like LinkedIn are good places to start. For domain registrations, check registrars like Web.com to see if your ideal business name has a registered domain counterpart.   

If the domain name is available, make sure to head over to archive.org and search the domain, to determine if the domain was used in the past. If it had been used in the past, you may want to perform additional SEO and brand research before moving forward, to ensure that you are building your business on a solid foundation. The last thing you’d want to do is register a domain that had been used for SEO spam or illegal activities in the past.  

Step 3: Consider relevance  

Make sure the name reflects your business type. It should be relevant to your industry and easy for customers to understand.  

Step 4: Get feedback  

Share your top choices with trusted colleagues or friends. Getting different perspectives can help you gauge the impact of your business name.  

Still stuck? Consider the following 

Use an AI name generator 

The Web.com domain name generator, powered by AI, simplifies your search for the ideal domain name. Simply input any combination of phrases, descriptions, or sentences. We will then provide a range of word combinations to help you discover the domain that best fits your needs! 

Work with an attorney  

While a business owner can do this process themselves, an attorney can help ensure that your chosen name doesn’t infringe on existing trademarks and guide you through the legalities of business registration. 

They can also provide valuable advice on intellectual property protection, which can save you from potential legal issues in the future. While it’s an additional expense, the expertise of an attorney can be a worthwhile investment for long-term brand security and peace of mind.  

Play with spelling  

Taking liberties with spelling is typical in the tech startup world, as these companies want unique names that will stand out in a sea of competitors. There is no reason your small business can’t change the spelling of nickel to nickl or dime to dym. A word of caution: Only go this route if funky spelling will resonate with your target market.  

Combine two words to create a “new” word  

Putting two words together to create a new one is a very creative solution to create creative business names, as it can help describe what your business is about. LeapFrog creates educational games for kids. Wintergreen is a ski resort in Virginia. Starburst is a line of candy. If you go this route, create columns for words that describe your business – nouns, adjectives, verbs – and start combining them.  

Make up a new name  

Starbucks, Verizon, and Haagen Dazs are made-up names that don’t describe company products or services yet are completely familiar to consumers. The only problem with made-up names is the level of education you might have to undertake to ensure your potential customers understand what you do. If you’re up for the challenge, go for it!  

Choosing the right domain name for your business  

Your domain name is what your target audience and potential customers will type on their browsers to access your business website. Naturally, you’ll want to stick to something that represents your brand. It can be your brand name directly, but it may not always be the case for everyone.   

Here are a few tips for choosing a domain name that sticks with your audience:   

  • Make sure it represents your brand identity. You always want to be on-brand. You’ll want your target audience to recall your business immediately with your domain name. 
  • Keep it short and simple. Choose a domain name that’s easy to spell, remember, and type.  
  • Avoid numbers and hyphens. These can be confusing and are often misunderstood. You also want to ensure search engines understand your domain name so they can easily index your pages. 
  • Choose the right domain extension. There are tons of domain extensions out there — from .com to .org to country-specific ones like .uk. A .com is preferable, but consider other extensions if they better suit your business. For instance, a .app domain name may apply to your app development business.  
  • Think long-term. Your domain name isn’t editable unless you register a new one. Choose a name that will grow with your business and won’t limit future expansion.  

If you’re still on the fence about getting a domain name, read this quickstart guide to business domain names here.   

Domain availability and registration  

Securing your domain begins with a domain name search to ensure it’s available. Use reliable domain registration websites like Web.com for this. Once you find an available name, proceed to register it quickly – domain names are claimed rapidly. It’s advisable to register your domain for multiple years to secure long-term ownership and prevent lapses.   

Consider purchasing similar domain names to safeguard your brand. Additionally, opt for privacy protection services to keep your personal information secure from the public domain registry. This step is crucial to establish and protect your online presence effectively.  

Conduct a thorough trademark search to ensure you’re not infringing on existing trademarks. This can be done via online trademark databases. It’s also wise to understand the basics of trademark law – knowing the difference between common law trademarks and registered trademarks can save you from legal complications.   

Additionally, be mindful of copyright and domain squatting issues. Domain squatting, also known as cybersquatting, involves buying domain names that closely resemble known brands or trademarks, often intending to sell them at a higher price to the rightful trademark owners. This can lead to legal disputes and complications for businesses trying to establish their online presence.   

It’s important to be aware of this risk and take proactive steps to protect your brand names and trademarks in the domain space.   

Ready, set, launch your business!   

Naming your small business and securing your domain name is only the beginning. However, it’s a crucial step you don’t want to mess up! Be sure to not only find a business name that’s hip, trendy, and on-brand, but also do your homework to find out if it’s already in use. If it’s not, then you’re ready to get the ball rolling! Register your domain name with Web.com now to be visible online!   

  • Faith Lisondra

    Faith is a Content Marketing Editor at Web.com. With a decade of content writing expertise, she enjoys staying abreast of the ever-evolving landscape of content and its dynamic relationship with marketing and SEO. Faith started her writing journey during the cringe-worthy era of 2010 Tumblr, but don’t bother asking for her blog URL.

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