Naming your new business is one of the most important tasks you’ll complete during your startup phase. Spend some time thinking through your naming, since that name is part of the public face that everyone will see and associate with your product or services. Your company name will have issues related to distribution as well, since you’ll also want to use it (or some close variation) as your website address.
Once you’ve got some ideas for your company name, you’ll have to do a search to ensure that the name is available for use in your state (and if you expect to expand further, check the name in every state where you might do business). From a legal standpoint, it is best to avoid generic names or names based on geographic locations since it can difficult or impossible to protect a generic name from infringement by other businesses. It is best to choose a name that is unique, easy to remember and consistent with the image you want your business to project. And even though a name is protected even if it is not registered, you can also do a trademark search to see if the name is registered. You may also want to consider registering your trademark later on down the road, but normally it is better to wait until your business has started operations before registering the trademark.
If you are forming your business as a corporation or LLC, you will also need to file documents in your state to use the name, and in some states, you’ll also need to register you “doing business as” name, also called a trade name, even if the business is not a separate legal entity. Remember, the legal name of the business doesn’t have to be the name everyone can see on the door (though it can be.) When I started Nu-Kitchen, I incorporated the company as “Power Chow LLC”; Nu-Kitchen was a trade name.
Once you have completed the steps to register your company name, you may still need a business license in your local or state jurisdiction. Some businesses also require a federal permit. This part of the business journey can be confusing but it is also exciting. Naming a thing gives it power and momentum – and you’ve just found out how to name the business that you’re starting!
Once you’ve finalized your new business name, you can think about how you want to present that name. A logo is a design that helps people to recognize your product or company. There are many different ways to design a logo, from a variation on typestyle to a graphic element that symbolizes your company name or mission. If you are creating a product or service that will live in the world for a long time, you are well advised to carefully consider your logo and the impression it will make on others. Designer Jacob Cass lists all the possible ways you can get a logo designed inexpensively or for free online, and then blasts them all as being ways to NOT get your logo. If you have the funds, certainly it is worth talking to a qualified designer to go through a process. But if you’re funding on a shoestring, it may be worth trying a few of these methods to at least start you on the road to an idea.
At the same time, you want to find a domain name for your business. Good domain names are hard to find. Even nonsense words can be hard to obtain these days. Looking to domains like .CO or .TV or other alternate domains to .COM can help make the job easier and more fruitful. You’ll find that many web hosting companies that offer to create your own website and run it on your own domain name with your own firstname.lastname@example.org email have web presence builders available as well. I encourage you to consider blog software like WordPress as the basis for your site since there are so many consultants who can help you customize it, and there are so many free and low-cost templates, add-ins and widgets that will help you do exactly what you want to with your site.
Finalize the name of your new business, get that logo, domain name and website up and you’ll feel much more like a real company. What advice do you have for your peers at this point in the startup process? Share in the comments below!