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Choosing a business name

Your business name is a crucial part of your brand. Here’s where you’ll find tips and a great tool for deciding on that perfect name.

Unless you lend your own name to your business, choosing one can drain you of time, energy and patience. Whatever your business does, its name should:

  • be memorable
  • be unique
  • roll off the tongue
  • tell people what you do.

Tips on developing your unique selling point

Do a thorough background check on names you like.

Do a thorough background check on names you like.

Avoid names too similar to ones already in use — you could run into legal troubles if you don’t.

How to choose a name

Write a list of all the words you associate with your business. They could be about the products or services you want to provide, or the value of what you do.

You can make up words (Google, Facebook), join words together (YouTube), use phrases (TradeMe) or a name — your own (J Smith Plumbing) or invented (Häagen-Dazs).

Brainstorm

If you’re struggling to find a name that fits the bill, try this technique:

  1. Find a large wipeable board or a stack of Post-Its to write your ideas on.
  2. Set a time limit, eg five minutes, and write down every name that comes into your head, no matter how crazy or irrelevant they seem.
  3. Discard names you don’t like or don’t make sense for the business.
  4. Review what’s left and choose all the names you like.
  5. Repeat step 4 until you have a number you’d like to test, eg six.
  6. Test your chosen names. 
 

Test

If you have a name in mind but aren’t sure if it’ll be suitable, or can’t decide between several names, test them on people.

A simple and effective way to do this is an A/B test. You’ll need at least two names to try and some people to test:  

  1. Take two names and ask people if they prefer A or B.
  2. Note the winner.
  3. Repeat stage 1-2 until you’ve tested all your names.
  4. Add up the scores and find the winner.
  5. If you still don’t like it, discard it and start again.

Is your name available?

Once you’ve found the perfect name, the next step is to find out if someone has beaten you to the punch and registered it.

Using ONECheck

ONECheck is a free tool that checks the availability of company names, internet domain names and trade marks in one search.

Simply enter the name and click Search. If it is not already in use, from the results you can:

  • reserve your company name
  • register your domain name
  • get started with your trade mark.
ONECheck

It’s time to use our ONECheck tool (external link)

Intellectual property

Your intellectual property (IP) can be a huge part of the value of your business to a buyer. So make sure you protect your business’s IP.

Some IP assets can be registered, eg trade marks, patents and designs. Other types are protected in different ways, eg copyright and trade secrets.

Types of IP

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