So you’ve come up with a great concept and thought of the perfect business name – congratulations! However, before you rush off to get your business cards printed, you need to confirm that your proposed business name is both legal and also available across government agencies, domain name registrars and social media platforms. Luckily, there are several online searches you can perform that will make all of this easy, and will assist you to register and protect your business name.
Deciding on a business name
Your business name creates the first impression someone has of your business, so you need to get it right. When choosing a name, consider:
- Is your business name easy to remember, pronounce and spell?
- Is it obvious what services/products are offered by your business?
- Are any other businesses already using the proposed business name?
- Is the proposed name available to be registered as a domain name (website)?
- Is the business name available on social media platforms you may use now or in the future?
Checking your proposed business name for official registration
When you search for your proposed business name, the ASIC search engine will “apply a number of tests to a proposed business name to determine if it is available to register. This includes checking for identical names and any restricted or offensive terms.” When you run your check, the results will be one of either:
- Green – means the name is available.
- Amber – the name will be reviewed by ASIC after you apply.
- Red – means the proposed name is not available.
TIP: To ensure exclusive use of your business name throughout Australia you will need to register your business name as a trademark.
Once you have confirmed that your business name is available, but before you officially register it, you should also check for its availability across digital platforms (see the section later in this blog).
Registering your business name
Once you have performed an ASIC search and the recommended digital platform searches below, you can register your official business name here.
- USA – visit the US Small Business Administration website.
- UK – read more about setting up a business in the UK.
- Canada – read more about starting a business in Canada.
Checking your proposed business name on digital platforms
Your business name should be consistent across all of your touchpoints – both physical and digital. This makes it easier for your customers to find you and will also assist you to protect your brand.
If your business name is Flowers by Zara then before officially registering it with the relevant government department, you should ensure that the name can also be secured for a website (domain name) and on the most popular digital platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest).
Even if you do not plan to use these platforms, it is important to open an account with them using your business name to protect your brand. Securing your business name on these platforms will prevent anyone else operating on those platforms using your name. It will also ensure that you can safely use them at a later date if you choose to do so.
NameCheckr is an easy to use website that allows you to check name availability across a wide range of websites and social media platforms. Some of the sites that NameCheckr searches are:
- Domain Name (.com)
NameCheckr does not check the following sites and it is recommended that you conduct those searches separately.
- .com.au domain names
To use NameCheckr, type your proposed business name into the search box and press ‘Enter’ (note: NameCheckr will remove spaces to perform the search). NameCheckr will complete the search and display the results.
A green checkmark will be displayed in the upper right-hand corner of the website’s logo if the name is available.
If the name is not available, a red ‘unavailable’ circle will be displayed. See examples below.
Note: Instagram was recently removed from the list of websites that NameCheckr searches.
To search your proposed business name on Instagram:
- Open the Instagram App on your phone.
- Tap the search button & type in your proposed business name.
- Tap Accounts to see if anyone has registered the name.
If no username is found, then you should be able to register it.
Note: Remember Instagram is owned by Facebook, so it may be useful to link your accounts to facilitate cross posting and advertising.
Tip: also check if there are social media posts that use hashtags with your proposed business name eg #flowersbyZara. If so, do these posts pose a risk to your businesses’ reputation?
Registering your Social Media accounts
Once you have confirmed the availability of your business name on social media platforms, you will need to open and set up your account on each platform. Where possible, you should register and use the same username across social platforms eg. @flowersbyzara and avoid the use of hyphens etc eg. @flowers-by-zara.
To protect your brand, you should register your username on the most popular platforms (even if you have no current plans to use them). Register on:
Other platforms to consider registering on (depending on your niche/brand) are:
Registering your Domain Name
When registering your domain name, you should choose something as close to your business name as possible. Try to make it easy to spell and remember. If your business name is Flowers by Zara, then your website should be www.flowersbyzara.com or www.flowersbyzara.com.au / .co.uk etc depending on your business location.
In order to protect your business name and brand, where possible, you should register both the .com and local version of your domain name (.com.au etc). You can then choose which domain name to use for your website and have the secondary site redirect to your live site, or just keep it to protect your brand.
The link below contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase something through these links, at no additional cost to you.
Do you need to dive a little deeper into your website? I regularly host small group workshops – make sure you follow Chookapeck on Facebook or Instagram to get more details. Checkout upcoming Workshops here.
Alternatively, you could book in for a One-on-one Coaching session where you get 90 mins of tailored training in areas of your choice. Coaching sessions can be held in person or via video link using Zoom.
You might like to read these Chookapeck blog posts about improving your website’s performance: