How to pick the perfect name for your small business

Bookend Creative Studio logo

Naming things is hard. Naming your business is doubly so. It’s an immense amount of thought and research for a tiny number of words. 

It’s time well spent! Your small business’ name will impact your success for years.

Here’s the step-by-step process I used to pick a name for my small business – and you can use it, too. So grab a notebook or open a document on your device and get ready to work.

1. What do you want to communicate with potential clients?

Your business name should quickly answer some of your clients questions about your business.

  • Who do you serve? – Your clients or the region you serve.
  • How do you serve them? – Your products or services.
  • What sets you apart? Or what value do your clients get from your products or services? – This is the bigger picture of how you help your clients.

For my small web design business that looks like:

Who do we serve? - Authors, artists, and small businesses
What sets us apart? - Our clients often tell me they like working with us because we’re approachable, knowledgeable, supportive, and know their industry. 
How do we serve clients? - With web design, graphic design, branding, strategy, and so much more.

The what questions are by far the hardest. I had some hints: I had already been working with clients for a few years as a freelancer and they would spontaneously share why they liked working with me. (My clients are the best.) It still took a lot of reflecting and freewriting to answer those questions.

If you don’t have that kind of feedback from clients yet, answering these questions may help you figure it out.

  • Why do you want to do this work?
  • What is your favorite part of your business?
  • What will clients achieve because of your business?
  • Who are your competitors and what sets you apart from them?

2. What makes a good small business name?

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a small business name:

  • Unique: Business names should be unique enough that when someone searches for you, they don’t find ten businesses with the same name.
  • Memorable: People can’t find you if they can’t remember your business name. Uniqueness helps here.
  • Simple and Short: Overly long and complex business names are hard to remember
  • Spellable: Clients can’t find you if they can’t spell the business name. Using cutesy and odd spelling can work against you here. As can long, complex words that people struggle to spell. 

You also need to check if your name is available:

  • Legally available: in the US, you cannot use a business name that is trademarked or registered. Rules for registering business names vary by state.
  • Domain availability: Ideally your website domain name should include your business name. (Ours is That makes it more likely the site will show up when a client searches for you. You also want to avoid names that have similar existing domains that will confuse your clients. (For instance, people often confuse with but they’re very different!)

3. How to pick the perfect business name?

I approached this a lot like how I find the just right words in my books.

First, I turned those who, how, and what answers into a list of words.

Then I got out a few of the tools from my writing toolbox and got to work filling a notebook.

Lather, rinse, and repeat until you find a good business name. (Hoping for something more straightforward? Unfortunately, the only formula for writing is work hard + keep going + keep learning and trying new things. It’s the same formula for running a successful small business, so I know you can do it.)

How we chose Bookend Creative Studio

For me, things clicked while doing some freewriting:

What do I like best about what I do? “Getting to see clients launch books and businesses.”
How do I help them achieve that? “They succeed because of their hard work, but I support them with my services to make those things happen.”

Support. That word kept popping up. The longer I thought about it, the more it felt right. 

I did a search for words related to “support” and skimmed down the list. Way, way down the list. Until I found “bookend.” I literally sat up in my chair. 

Screenshot from RelatedWords.Org showing the word “Bookend” in the search for “support”

After that, things came together quickly. 

Individually, the words convey what we do to clients:

  • Bookends – suggests support and hints at the writing that myself and many of my clients do.
  • Creative – describes the work of many of my clients as well as my design work and my writing.
  • Studio – a place where creativity happens

Bookend Creative Studio also sounds good all together.

Plus, it checked all the business name boxes: unique, memorable, simple, short(ish), spellable, legally available in my state, and there was a domain available! 

Your turn.

I’d love to hear from you! How did you find your business name? What does it tell your customers about you? Any tips to share?

How to Pick the Perfect Name for your Small Business (and why we picked ours)

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