1. Be clear about the product or service you offer
Every see or hear a business name and have no idea what the company actually does? Be careful with creating a name that is hard to directly relate to your business. Many artrepreneurs choose a descriptor word that follows the core business name to help give customers a hint about what they do. For example: Creations Film or John Doe Design. Others select names that play on the product or service provided. For example: The Sound Station or Artist’s Cafe.
2. Reflect your brand
In this article, we talked about building a brand around your art that acts as the core to your business image. Keep your brand in mind when developing a business name. Does your proposed name fit with the messaging style that you’ve decided on?
Some artrepreneurs name their business first, and then build their brand around that name. This is a slippery slope that can cause you to lose sight of the value you’re trying to offer. Instead, think about the value you’re providing your customers and how your business name can help to enforce it.
3. Be original, but easy to remember (and even familiar)
Originality is often praised in artrepreneurship, but Derek Thompson, author of the book Hit Makers, makes the argument that originality on its own is not king. People are more drawn to things that feel original AND familiar. Familiarity makes a business name easier to remember and creates a positive feeling in the hearts of consumers. So when naming your business, think about names that are somewhat original, and somewhat familiar or recognizable. This meet-in-the-middle method will help you create a business name that is preferred by most consumers.
4. Do your research
So you’ve gone through tips #1-3 and think you’ve found the perfect name for your business. Before you get too attached, make sure you do your research to confirm that the name is not already in use. There are 4 main places you’ll want to visit:
A simple Google search can tell you right away if your potential business name is already in use. Is there another business or blog that floods your search results? If so, you’re going to have a hard time getting to the front page of Google, and a harder time becoming the very first search result that people will see. Check out what already exists online so that you can get an idea of the plausibility of your new business name.
If you don’t see any competing online presences that might threaten the success of your new business name, it’s time to check out NameCheckr.com. This site allows you to simultaneously check all top-level domains and social media sites for your preferred business name. For example: You might want to name your business: Artist’s Cafe. On NameCheckr.com, you can see if that name is available for a .com domain, and as a username on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Using this kind of resource helps you to think about name consistency across your many digital presences.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office should be your next stop. Here, you can search all trademarks to understand if your potential business name has already been trademarked. You can search all US trademarks here (search for “Basic Word Marks”).
NOTE: Trademarks rely much on the “Likelihood of Confusion.” If your trademark is too similar to another in your same goods or services category, you may get denied. However, let’s say there is another “Artist’s Cafe,” but the associated goods and services category is Clothing. Since you want to open a Coffee Shop, this other trademark will not be a problem, because it exists in a completely different industry.
But, if there is a trademark registered for “Artist Cafe” in the Coffee Shop industry, you might have a problem. “Artist’s Cafe” and “Artist Cafe” are too similar, and are considered to have a high likelihood of confusion for consumers–so you will most likely be denied a trademark under that name.
State Business Entity Search
The last place you’ll need to visit to confirm the eligibility for your potential business name is your state’s business entity search portal. This search engine will populate any competing business names in your state. If another business has already filed a business license under your potential name, you’ll need to choose another. To find your state’s business name entity search, go to Google and type in: ‘Your state’ business entity search.
Naming your business is one part heart and one (large) part strategy. Work through tips #1-4 as you develop the right business name for your art-based business! Remember: There is no formula for developing the perfect business name, so don’t drive yourself crazy trying to find the perfect one. Once you find a name that checks off tips #1-4, stick with it and get started on building your very own creative business!
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