Beyond Words:  Sage Insights for Naming Your Business

Beyond Words: Sage Insights for Naming Your Business

Shakespeare made this question famous:  "What's in a name?" It suggests that a name alone cannot capture the essence of a person or a thing. However, names hold unique power in shaping our perceptions, evoking emotions, and conveying identity. The same is true for business names. They tell your audience what you’re about and what they can expect when interacting with you. Here we share our 6 steps and FREE Business Naming Tool to help you choose your business name. 

  1.  Should you use your name?

First, it’s important to decide if you want to use your name or some iteration of it. Is this your first name, last/family name, maybe even a nickname? For artists, using your name is very common. Before going this route, however, make sure your name is easy to spell and easy to pronounce. If it’s not, consider using a childhood nickname like Mimi Purnell does. 

There are also some drawbacks to using your name for your business. For instance, if you are starting it with other people, want to grow it to include other people, or might sell it someday. Using your own name might cause issues in each of these scenarios. 

  1. Build a LOOOONG List

Second, make yourself a good ‘ole spreadsheet! Yes, if you’re like me, you love spreadsheets and you’re so excited I just told you to build one. If you don’t, lucky you because we've built one for you! Fill in the form below and we'll send you the FREE Business Naming Tool

Populate the Business Naming Tool or your spreadsheet with all your different business name ideas. Don’t forget to include words that describe what you’re about. If you’re an artist, think Studio, Art, Gallery, Creative, etc. Big names like Nike and Amazon can get away with ambiguous names, but doing something similar will make your life harder and confuse your audience. 

Also, pick words that excite you and/or mean something to you, look up synonyms for those words and put those in as options too. For example, we had “Sage Art”, “Sage Leaf Studio”, and “Sage Studio” all in the list. Right now, you’re just writing down anything that comes to mind. Give this process at least a week and add new names and words as they come to mind. Let your subconscious simmer on this task. You’ll narrow down the list in the next step. 

If you have zero ideas or need some inspiration, use Shopify's free business name idea generation tool here. Most of the ideas can come out pretty generic, but at least they give you a place to start. 

  1. Filter and Get Feedback

Next, look over your list and make micro-adjustments to some names if saying it a different way would sound better. For example, flip “Wonder Wild Studio” to “Wild Wonder Studio”. Then rank all the names. Give the names you really like a 3, the ones you kind of like a 2, and the ones you don't like a 1. Then, ask a few other people who you know and trust and who support your mission to do the same. Tip:  hide your ranked column so they aren’t influenced by your ranking! Next, filter the names that consistently showed up as 2’s and 3’s for everyone. Now pick your top 3-5 names for steps 4-6.

  1. Check Web Availability

Checking URL/web availability on your business name is critical. Check to see if someone already has that business name as a webpage. For instance, if you like “Betsy Art,” is already taken? Also, should you be worried if someone Googles you, that Betsy is spelled like Etsy, and might derail anyone searching for you online? Mark in your Business Naming Tool which of your business name ideas are already taken or compromised, and which are free for you to run with.

  1. Check Social Media Availability

At some point you might want to take your business to a social media platform, or several. Check all the social media platforms for the username or variations of the username you would want to use. Mark in your Business Naming Tool which of your business name ideas are already taken on these social media platforms, and which are still available to you. Keep in mind that some might be taken, but the pages are inactive. How can you slightly tweak your name choice to use and grow with? See more about this below.

  1. Check Legal Availability

Last, you’re going to want to check which of your business name options are legally available. This is very important because one of the first things you should do when starting a business is setup a sole proprietorship or LLC. This will help you to save money on taxes each year. We'll talk more about this in a future blog post. To check if your business name ideas are legally available, check the federal register and your state’s register. In Colorado, this is the Secretary of State’s page here. Mark in your Business Naming Tool which of your business name ideas are already legally taken and which are still available (or a variation thereof).

Picking Your Business Name

You’ve done your homework, you’ve filled out your Business Naming Tool, and you’re ready to choose a business name! Hopefully one or two options are available to you in every way. If none are available, there might be one or two that are already taken on one platform that you can modify. For instance, @sageleafstudio was already taken on Instagram but had very few posts and fewer followers, which meant very little competition. So, we chose @sage_leaf_studio. Similarly, buying the domain was going to cost $70+ more than, so we went with the cheaper option. However, if you don’t have flexibility like this you might have to expand steps 4-6 to include more names from your original list.

At the end of this process, one or two business names should really stand out as viable options. Don’t settle for a name. The business name you choose should make your heart sing and move you to grow and nurture it to reality. This will be one of your first big business milestones, and it should be one you’re proud of. 

If you haven't yet, download the FREE Business Naming Tool below and get started. 

We hope this process was helpful to you. If you enjoyed it and want to receive more information like it from The Sage Creative, sign up for our newsletter below! If you know someone who might benefit from this read send it to a friend.

Thank you and have a sage day!

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