There are so many legal factors when choosing a name for your business or organization, but there are several everyday factors you should also think about. So, before you decide on a name, run it through the following filters.
1. Domain Name
We start here because this is probably the most important. You can have the greatest name chosen, but if you can't get the domain name for it, it's going to kill it. ".com"s are probably the most recognized domain suffix in the world and I can tell you from experience that there is not much left available. Whatever hasn't been already used for companies, domain squatters own them in hopes that they can sell it for a big profit one day. This is the very reason, we started seeing site names like Flickr, Reddit and Blogr. They were supposed to be Flicker, Read It and Blogger, but they were already taken years ago. You will have to get creative.
2. Similar Names
As you start to build your brand, you don't need the hassle of trying to fight the confusion of your relation with another company. Do a fuzzy search on Google and see what comes up. Chances are, those companies with names similar to yours, will have a page one listing on Google well before you get there. You don't want your customers thinking that's you.
My wife's company is Namaste Inspired. We felt that this name best represented her yoga and fitness company. We thought that it was pretty straight forward and maybe only a handful of people might get stuck on the "Namaste" part. 5 years later we still get phone calls for "NAMAST" Inspired. It might not seem like a big deal, and maybe it's not. However, having to explain this over and over to people get's challenging.
If you have to spell your business name to someone so they can right it down, instead of just saying the whole name, then rethink it. As with the mispronunciation, you will always find yourself doing this, and it is a pain.
We see this more often in the Non-Profit/ Charity sector. Organizations create longwinded names and then shorten it with an acronym. I am not sure where this started, but please stop. :) These acronyms might be recognizable to your staff, your close community and your clients, but it doesn't to the rest of the world. Provide a meaningful name that is short and denotes your purpose. On a side note, we received a message from an organization recently that used the acronym A.A.C.R.C.B.A. I changed a letter or two in there to hide their actual identity, but this is actually what they went by. Try saying that every time you answer the phone or need to remember their web address.
I hope this helps as a bit of a filter. We see organizations and new businesses struggle to come up with a name to represent themselves. In fact, we've seen this process take months and delay the actual startup. Take the time to come up with something right, but don't let it bog you down. Get out there and start doing what you want to do.
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