Have you ever wondered how Steve Jobs came up with the idea of naming his company “Apple”? This name came to him after a walk in an orchard. He thought the word sounded “fun, energetic and benevolent”.
Initially, the company was called “Apple Computers”, but today it is simply called “Apple”. It is probably the best example of a company name without any connection to its products, which is nevertheless one of the most easily recognized in the world. Is there a magic formula for finding a unique business name that will appeal to everyone?
Please note that Jimdo cannot and does not provide legal advice. If in doubt, we recommend that you contact legal counsel.
Register a company name
The legal conditions for registering a company name are different depending on the country. In France, a company can have several names:
It must not be the same or similar to an existing name. Before filing your business name, check its availability. It must not be identical or resemble a name which benefits from a prior right, for activities which would be identical or similar to yours.
It must not mention a regulated activity or a particular status unrelated to yours, if you do not meet the legal or regulatory conditions required to benefit from it.
It should not be misleading. You cannot use vague words that could mislead the consumer.
A company, regardless of its legal form, can register a company name or trade name. The first use of your trade name gives you ownership of it. You are therefore not obliged to file it, but this procedure to be carried out with the INPI ensures more effective and more extensive protection.
These steps are to be carried out on the website www.infogreffe.fr and/or on the website of the National Institute of Intellectual Property (INPI). We cover this topic in more detail in step 6.
Clarify your business concept
Just like your professional logo, your business name should reflect your business and concept. You do not know where to start ? First ask yourself the following questions:
You know what you’re doing, but how do you explain it to others? Try to describe your offer in a few words, like in an elevator pitch . This method will help you identify the key messages you want to convey to customers.
Do you make jewelry by hand, while your competitors all make them in factories on an assembly line? Do you offer quality after-sales service, even after your customers have made their purchases? Write
Are your hand-knitted woolen hats fashion accessories for ski lovers or simple headgear to keep granny’s ears warm in winter? Your business name should be relevant to your target audience, as should your brand speech and tone.
Your core values reflect your beliefs as a company. Are you committed to using sustainably sourced materials, sourcing from local suppliers, or taking risks? Your values reflect your personality and the way you run your business.
Your company name doesn’t have to express all of these things at once, just the general idea. Most importantly, it conveys to your customers the same emotion as when they hold your product in their hands or meet your team for the first time.
Find suitable terms
You know what makes you unique. Now give free rein to your creativity!
Brainstorm words and phrases that describe your offer. For example, for hand-knitted beanies, think of “handmade”, “wool”, “warm”, “unique” or even “made with love”. You can brainstorm alone or with your family, friends or associates.
Make a list of your favorite words. At first glance, these words will have no relation to your business, but they should evoke positive feelings. As a reminder, the name “Apple” has no connection with computers or smartphones, and yet it is one of the most famous and recognized brands in the world.
Do extensive research. Use Google to research the names of your competitors or other websites and businesses you like. It’s not about copying an existing name, but about taking inspiration from a concept, an idea or simply the choice or order of words. Consult your dictionary, observe your surroundings, listen to music, collect as many ideas as possible in different ways.
Need inspiration? There are many free online tools you can use to create a business name. Typically, these name generators simply match the terms you type in with random words. In any case, they can help you spark ideas.
Play with your favorite words
Your brainstorming sessions and extensive research finally resulted in a list of words that fit your business. Now keep going, get creative by combining them, adding different endings (like “Spotify”), translating them into other languages… Let your imagination run wild!
Your name and/or first name are also sources of inspiration for creating an effective business name. The sports brand “Adidas” consists of the nickname “Adi” of its founder, Adolf Dassler, and the first three letters of his surname. Another example: the Danone brand is the Catalan nickname of Daniel, the son of the group’s founder, to which the ending “e” has been added.
The name should be easy to pronounce. “Abracadabric-à-brac” is a name that may evoke a flea market, but it is not easy to pronounce or spell.
It must be catchy. “Bonnet blanc et blanc bonnet” is an easy phrase to pronounce, but it’s not very punchy for a business name. Better to keep it short: “Blanc bonnet”, for example, will be more effective.
It should, ideally, evoke a message, a benefit or a metaphor. The name can be more abstract like “Apple” or more specific like “Audible”.
It should not be restrictive. Avoid incorporating a city name, using a gender mark, or other terms that may unnecessarily narrow your customer base. For example “Petits petons Paris” gives the impression that you operate only in Paris. If you sell both men’s and women’s products, a name like “The Classy Man” won’t be appropriate.
Test your business name
Submit your favorite picks to friends and family and ask them to give you honest feedback. Even if the feedback is negative, it’s better to know now rather than after printing your business cards, labeling your products and opening your online store. Reviews, good or bad, give you a new perspective and allow you to come up with an even more effective name.
TIP: If possible, seek the advice of relatives who are unaware of your new business. Give them a list of your potential names and ask them to guess the type of product or service you plan to offer. It’s a great way to identify issues you hadn’t thought of.
Check the availability of a business name
Some of your favorite names have convinced your family and friends? If so, now you need to check their availability. If you are having trouble deciding between several options, this necessary step may be able to help you decide on your choice.
Finding a truly unique business name is difficult today. The rules on this depend on the geographical scope of your activity. As a general rule, several companies can have the same name, as long as they are far enough apart geographically, do not operate in the same industry or sell a similar product, and do not belong not to the same trademark registration class. For companies in France, the name must not already be registered with the Trade and Companies Register or with the National Institute of Intellectual Property.
If your customers are likely to confuse your business with that of a competitor or another business in your area, you should avoid using the name in question. Just do a quick Google search to be sure.