Choosing a Business Name Made Easy

Many business owners find it a struggle to find the right business name. The pressure, after all, is immense. Choose the right name and you will become memorable. Choose the wrong name and you are doomed for obscurity. Choosing a business name doesn’t need to be difficult if you follow the steps we’ve laid out below.

The Legal Rules

When considering a name, your first point of call should be the Business Registry. The Business Registry lists the names of all corporations registered for the province and will be able to tell you quickly and easily, if the name is already taken. Names of Sole Proprietorships, General Partnerships, and DBAs will not appear as they are not protected.

While the BC Registry will not reject your name if it conflicts with sole proprietorships,  or general partnerships names that are currently registered in the province, it is still often useful to know of other unincorporated names that may be registered. You can check the Orgbook to see all business names registered in the province:

Remember though, if you are looking to expand your business across Canada, or even the world, you will need to check with each Province and Country, not just where you are located.

When registering the name, you are legally obliged to include a unique element and descriptive element in your name. The unique element can be anything you wish. The descriptive element could relate to your business field e.g. Marketing or Construction, or it could be general e.g. Ventures or Enterprises.

Don’t worry if your registered name feels too formal for your brand. It is common for companies to register a specific name that adheres to these legal rules and then use a variance of it to for operating and marketing purposes.

One well-known example of this is Lululemon. This Canadian business is registered as Lululemon Athletica Canada Inc. However, publicly they are known as just Lululemon or Lululemon Athletica.

10 Tips for Choosing a Business Name

So now you know the rules, next comes the fun part. The time to let your creative juices run wild. Well, as long as you follow these ten tips that is.

1. Think Long-Term

Don’t be too specific with your name and include just one product or service that you are selling. Five years from now, you may expand your product range or services and you will find the name too constrictive.

2. Don’t be too Clever

Try not to use weird spellings, unless it’s a strong part of your brand identity. It will make it hard for clients to find you online or in the phone directory. Easy to spell, easy to pronounce names make your business easier to find.

3. Check the Website Domains Available

Before registering your name, find out if the website domain is available. You do not want to have a website URL that is different from your business name, as it will be confusing to the client and make you harder to find.

4. Be Distinctive

It is important to separate yourself from the competition and allow customers to identify you as a unique brand. Choose a name that is unlike any others that exist in the market.

5. Don’t be too Personal

It may be tempting to choose a name that has personal significance to you, however put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Will they be able to identify with it?

6. Avoid Acronyms and Abbreviations

Both are easy to misspell and misremember. Unless you have a robust marketing strategy to make it memorable, avoid.

7. Think of Your Audience

If you want to market to bigger businesses, be sure your name sounds professional and has appeal to upper-level managers. A business name with words like heart, soul, balance, passion, is not going to be taken seriously by a corporation, as they will be conscious of the impression they’re providing stockholders.

8. Get Input

Once you have a few possibilities, bounce them off friends, family, colleagues and potential clients if possible. Ask for their initial impressions and any suggestions they might have, and then add their feedback to your process.

9. Keep It Short

Your business name won’t necessarily be more effective if it’s short, but it may be easier to remember.

10. Sleep On It

Put your shortlist of names aside for a day or two and then come back to it with a fresh perspective. You may feel differently about a name you loved before, or your working list may help you develop a new and perfect name when you review it again.

Keep in mind that professional naming firms devote anywhere from six weeks to six months to choosing a business name. You probably won’t have that much time, but plan to spend at least a few weeks on selecting a name.

Once your decision is made, start building your enthusiasm for the new name immediately. Your name is your first step toward building a strong company identity, one that should last as long as you’re in business.

Here to Help

No matter what stage of your business journey you’re at, Small Business BC has the resources you need to succeed. Check out our range of business webinars, on-demand E-Learning Education, our Talk to an Expert Advisories, or browse our selection of business articles.