For businesses and brands to be successful, a consistent online presence is critical—and it all starts with your company name (and, after that, an optimized website, of course). Feeling daunted by the process or not sure what to do if someone else has already secured the moniker you want? Don’t worry—we’re here to help.
Prepare a Plan B (and C, and D…)
Some companies are lucky and able to get their preferred domain name without any issues, but for most this is rarely the case. To avoid frustration and having to pay big money to get the name you want, it’s a good idea to do some brainstorming ahead of time and come up with a list of multiple names to choose from. While many desirable names have already been claimed, you can still snag a cool name with a little help. Here are some tools to help you get started.
Business Name Generators
Dot-O-Mator: This free company name generator allows you to combine words to come up with possible company names and save the names you like to a scratch pad. You can then check to see if those domain names are available to buy (and scrap names that are already taken).
Company Name Generator: One of the most advanced free online business name generators available, Company Name Generator works by selecting patterns of vowels and consonants you want in your business name.
Domain Name Checker
Check Domain: Search, look up, check, select, reserve, purchase, register, transfer, renew, protect, and/or monitor domain names for any country in the world. We love this site because it’s a real time-saver (and time is money, people)!
NameBoy.com: Need an easy search tool? NameBoy.com lets you quickly search and register available domain names—and will also help generate domain names, too.
Name Tips: Short and Sweet
In your quest to find the perfect name for your business or brand, you’ll likely find that many of your top contenders are already in use. It could have been snagged by a competitor or a company that snatches up names in order to sell them for a profit. If you’re absolutely, wholeheartedly set on a name that appears to have already been taken, it may be worthwhile to do some digging to see if it’s in use by another business or if someone is simply squatting on the domain. You may be able to negotiate a price to buy back the name, if that’s a route you want to take. If you’d prefer to come up with an alternate name, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep names to less than three syllables—the shorter, the better.
- It’s also desirable to get a “.com” name but if it’s not available, “.me,” “.co,” “.net” or “.tv” domains can sometimes be viable alternatives—just make sure that whatever you go with is relevant to your business.
- Avoid making your name too complicated. This will create confusion (and will make branding difficult, too).
- Avoid picking a name that’s too similar to another name out there – confusion about your company name is not something you want.
- Abbreviations are a no-no! You can’t assume that people will know what your abbreviation means.
- Make sure people can easily remember your name. If they can remember how to spell your domain name five minutes after they’ve seen or heard it, then you’ve made a good choice.
Check Name Availability in Social Channels
After you’ve chosen your business name and checked that the domain is available, don’t sit back and relax just yet. Before you hit “purchase” on your domain name, do another check to see if your preferred name (or some iteration thereof) is available on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, to name just a few. Use a site like NameChk to quickly and easily check your name of choice across a veritable metric ton of social networking and bookmarking sites. If it is, hurry up and buy your domain and register the name on all social sites you think you might use. That way, you’ll prevent someone else from snatching up your business name. Yep, it’s a little cutthroat out there—you’ve got to act fast, lest you fall victim to that age-old cliché: you snooze, you lose.
One other tip–if your preferred domain name is available and you can secure the name on a majority of social networks, don’t scrap your plan just because the name isn’t available on one or two social sites. Can you create a slight variation using an underscore? And although we don’t advocate using abbreviations in your business name, a relevant abbreviation might make sense in a Twitter handle, for example. Play around to see what you can come up with—and don’t hesitate to run your ideas by a few trusted friends or colleagues to get their feedback.
Consistency Is Key
After you’ve gone through the trouble of researching and securing the company name you want, put it to good use! You already know to use it as your website and social profiles. As you’re setting up your various networks, make sure you can secure personalized URLs wherever possible (Facebook and LinkedIn, for example). The more sites you can attach to your brand or company name, the more you’ll boost your search visibility. Don’t forget to secure a spot on Google Places for Business, too, which will help optimize your business for local search.
Now go forth and claim your company’s spot on the web! Have any tips we’ve missed? Let us hear it in the comments.
Image by ashleigh290 via Creative Commons