How to Name a Business

So you want to start a business. Most likely one of the first steps in doing so will be choosing a name. When it comes to small business, a name can make or break your business! In an ideal world, you’d like the name you chose to be a valid representation of your industry know-how, value and individuality.

There are as many schools of thought regarding business names as there are names.  Some like abstract words or phrases, some prefer informative names that automatically signal the nature of the business or product, some think that made up word without meaning are more memorable and resonate more with the public.  Use wordplay, be simple, use puns, avoid puns, use your name, and avoid your name…. the debates continue and each stand is arguable.  For every argument there is a counter argument.

The few things that everyone will agree on is that you avoid misspellings, abbreviations, profanities, offensive undertones, negative double meanings, geographic limitations (in case you want to expand to other states / countries) and copycatting.  The more your name communicates to consumers about your business, the less work you’ll have to put in by explaining what it is you do or sell.

When it comes to your business and its identity there are a few questions you must ask first:

  • Do you want to fit in or stand out?
  • What will the logo look like?
  • How will the name you chose look on business cards, advertisements, on your website?
  • Does it distinguish you from your competitors?
  • What will your domain name be? Will it be available?
  • Is your name searchable?
  • Is your name too limiting and are you thinking of the future? (i.e. don’t limit yourself to a name that only speaks of one product as you may want to expand your range later)
  • Is the name relatable, understandable and pronounceable?
  • Does the name appeal to not only you, but also to your potential customers?

Fun facts*:

  • One of the longest, and strangest, company names in Australia is the letter A repeated 91 times, followed by a space, then B Pty Ltd
  • Some of the shortest business names in Australia include 9 Pty Ltd and V Pty Ltd
  • The first company to be registered in Australia was the Grand United Friendly Society Limited registered in 1848
  • A company name cannot be longer than 200 characters

*source- ASIC

Business Name Search:

Once you chose the right name for your business you must do a business name search and check the business name availability.

You can do so quickly and easily by simply entering the name in the search field here http://www.shelcom.com.au/businessnames. Within seconds you will see if the business name is available for use.

Certain words and phrases cannot be used in company names without the approval of a specified Minister or government agency. Words that cannot be used include:

‘building society’

‘trust’

‘university’

‘chamber of commerce’, and

‘chartered

You also cannot use words suggesting a misleading connection with government, the Royal Family or an ex-servicemen’s organisation. These restrictions make sure that a company’s name does not mislead people about its activities.

ASIC may also refuse to register certain names if they are considered offensive or suggest illegal activity.

Using an ACN (Australian Company Number) as a business name:

It is not necessary to give your company a name. The name of your company on registration can be its ACN, the unique number given by ASIC once a company registers.

You can select to use the ACN as your company name when you complete the ACN application and you won’t have to nominate a name.

Reserving a name:

Shelcom provides this service and makes this process easy.

If you want to make sure that your intended name cannot be taken by another person before you are ready to register it as a company, you can reserve the name.  If the name is approved it can be reserved it for two months.

You may apply to extend the two month period by lodging a second application with the fee. This second application must be lodged before the first two-month reservation period has passed.  ASIC will not indefinitely reserve a name if it prevents other people from legitimately using the name.

Register Your Business Name Today!

          Please type a description
1 year business name registration

        3 Year business name registration

Register Your Business Name Today!


          Please type a description
1 year business name registration

         3 Year business name registration

Types of names*:

Brand names typically fall into several different categories:

Acronyms and Initials
Names created from the initials of longer names: IBM, M&M (for Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie).

Amalgam
Names created by taking parts of words and putting them together: Nabisco (National Biscuit Company).

Alliteration and Rhyme
Fun to say, and particularly memorable: Nutter Butter, YouTube, Piggly Wiggly.

Appropriation
Use the idea for one thing and apply it to another: Caterpillar, Reebok.

Descriptive
Descriptive names ascribe to the product a characteristic: Toys R Us, General Motors.

Evocative
Invoke a vivid image that alludes to a brand benefit: London Fog, Amazon.

Neologism
A completely new made-up word: Kodak, Verizon.

Foreign Word
Use a foreign word or phrase as a brand name: Volvo for “I roll”.

Founders’ Names
Use the name of a founder of founder family member: Hewlett-Packard, Wendy’s.

Nickname
Use a founder’s nickname: Adidas aka Adolf Dassler, Kinkos.

Ingredients
Base the name on ingredients: Clorox for chlorine plus sodium hydroxide, Pepsi for the digestive enzyme pepsin.

Geography
Chose a name associated with company/product location: eBay for East Bay, Fuji for the tallest mountain in Japan.

Humor/Slang
For a name with personality: Yahoo!, Cracker Jack.

Merged
When two companies merge into one, sometimes both names are kept: ExxonMobil, Rolls Royce.

Mimetics
Use alternative spellings for common sounds: 2(x)ist, Krispy Kreme.

Personification
Create a character or adopt an existing personage: Green Giant, Midas Mufflers.

Onomatopoeia
Use a sound associated with a product function or other brand idea: Twitter, Meow Mix.

Clever Statement
Names don’t have to be just a word or two: Seven for All Mankind, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

*source – Wikipedia