What’s in a name? For a startup, nearly everything! When your small business first introduces itself, its name is one of its biggest identifiers to the world about what your business is and what it offers. So the pressure is on for entrepreneurs to give their businesses the “perfect” names, often to the point where the rules of the road have become muddled. Is it still okay to have a short name? Can you have a misspelling in a name to make it even more unique? And perhaps the most important question of all that often gets forgotten in the process: Does my name reflect my brand?

If you have no idea where to start on business monikers, we’ve created some handy do’s and don’ts to simplify the name game for your business:

Do: Conduct a name search and register a trademark

Sometimes, even the most original-seeming name actually isn’t. Conduct a name search to see if the name, or a similar variation, has already been trademarked. Without the search, you could be facing a trademark infringement case and not even realize it!

Do a name search first to prove that you did the research and know your name is an original work of authorship not in use by anyone else. Then, claim the name by filing for a trademark. This helps protect your unique business identity from having its assets plagiarized or copied by anyone else.

Don’t: Make it complicated to spell

If your team (or you) can’t remember how to spell it, then it’s likely your customers won’t be able to either. Keep it simple — one trick of the trade is to pick a name that has five to 10 letters and a minimum of one consonant in it.

Do: Consider how your name will look and sound

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it’s important to think about how the business name will appear everywhere from a logo to social media handles to your business website.

Now that you know what it looks like in print, start saying the name out loud. How does it sound? Will it be appealing to your target market and reflect what your business offers? Is it meaningful to your audience? Is there a form of alliteration here? (While not a requirement, this tactic has been proven to be quite memorable for brands like lululemon and TED Talks.)

Do: Register a domain name and social media handles

Make sure your domain name is available (especially in a .com format) and register for it as soon as possible. Check in on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make sure you can snag those handles for your business name too.

Do: Take your time

Don’t rush yourself on trying to think up the best name ever. If you need a little extra time, set it aside and come back to the drawing board often with new ideas. At the end of the day, you need to be the most comfortable with the name you pick; take all the time you need in the process.

Not a marketer? Not a problem.

This downloadable guide covers marketing in 8 easy-to-understand sections — each filled with professional tips and advice you can put into practice right away.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation and Deborah at @deborahsweeney.

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