The 5-point company name checklist
Think you've found the right name for your business? Great! But before you get too excited, just run the name through this quick 5-point checklist:
1. The search engine test
It sounds obvious, but a lot of people forget to do this simple test. Just Google the name you like, along with a few keywords that are relevant to your sector, e.g. "YourName Accountant" and see what results you get. It goes without saying that you should avoid a name if it delivers offensive or 'dodgy' search results, but if you're a New York based consultancy, it doesn't matter a jot if there's a record shop in Grimsby using the same name. Folks worry far too much about uniqueness, but you don't want to risk being confused with another business in your sector or geographical area.
2. The domain name check
Like it or not, serious businesses always own the .com domain and if you're starting a new business, why would you start with a compromise? So if the only domain you can get is YourName-Research-Consultancy.com then you haven't found the right name. And if you think your company's domain name doesn't matter, sorry but you're wrong. Finding a company name with an available .com is really tough, but worth the effort in the long run ...and vital if you're looking to build a brand.
3. The "Does the name paint me into a corner?" test
Being too specific or descriptive with a company name can be tempting. But many/most businesses change direction over time, sometimes subtly, sometimes drastically. SO the name that perfectly described your business on day one can go out of date. Avoid being too specific with your name – you may well regret it later. This type of name tends to be a bit bland and hard to remember anyway.
4. The phone test
Will it sound OK when you answer the phone and say the new company name? Is it easy enough to spell out loud? Does it sound a bit weird (not in a good way)? Are you slightly embarrassed when you say it?
5. The company registration check
It doesn't matter if there's already a company registered with the name you want – so if there's a company called YourName Limited, you can just register your business as YourName Services Limited, or whatever alternative is available. But it DOES matter if a direct competitor is using the name you want. If this is the case, keep looking!
If you use this checklist before committing to your new company name, you shouldn't go too far wrong.