Your business name says a lot about you – literally! When you are starting a new art or creative business one of the first things you will have to do is come up with a name. Your business name should be unique and say something about your business and your brand. You also need a name for your marketing materials, website, bank accounts and various licenses and taxing authorities.
Be creative in choosing your business name and if your business name can tell a story you have done a great job! Here are some possibilities: John Smith Art, John Smith Fine Art, John Smith Artist, John Smith Portraits, John Smith Figurative Art, John Smith Awesome Art, John Smith Awesome Portraits, John Smith Awesome Artist, John Smith Digital Art, John Smith Digital Portraits, John Smith Canvas Portraits…
As you can see there are a lot of possibilities when it comes to choosing a name. Some are more descriptive than others and some communicate a different type of art. Only John Smith can decide for sure which name best describes his overall creative and business goals.
Things to consider in choosing a name
Is your proposed business name being used by someone else?
A good place to start is by Googling your proposed name. If you find the exact name you are thinking about then you may need to choose another. The last thing you need to do is to choose a name that is used and owned by another company and later have to change it. Changing your name takes time and can be expensive to replace printed materials, signage, brochures and website content. I may also get expensive with regard to legal counsel and damage awards.
Can you business name be easily confused with another company?
It gets a little gray here but you may end up having to change your name. A local graphic designer I work with has used his company name for over 10 years – for sake of this example we will call it Rocket Creative. Recently he received legal correspondence from another local company in the marketing sector named Rocket Communications asking him to stop using the Rocket Creative name.
As it happened, Rocket Communications had been using its name for 11 years. Who knows what a judge would have decided? Rocket Creative agreed to stop using the Rocket Creative name and had to go through the time and expense of changing its materials, website address, website and notifying its customers – not a fun exercise!
Have you checked with your local secretary of state or other regulatory agency to see if someone else has registered your proposed name?
Your local secretary of state keeps a record of trade names registered in your state. This is a good place to check and in most states this can be done online. Keep in mind that although your proposed name may not be registered in your state that does not mean you that you can use it or keep from infringing on someone else’s property.
Have you searched on Google, Godaddy or other web hosting services?
A great place to start is to Google your proposed name. Look for similar names or names that could be confused. If you are lucky, the name(s) you are considering are not being used. More than likely your business name will be translated into a domain name on the web. Check to see if your proposed name is an existing domain name. I think you will quickly find out that most domain names that are combinations of common words are already taken. It is possible that you may be able to purchase an existing domain name but more likely you will have to come up with a name that is fresh.
Some ideas to get started
- Think about a name that describes your business – i.e. Creatives and Business LLC. The more your name says about your business the easier it will be to grow your brand and market your art.
- Try to keep away from made up words unless you have a good reason and brand to support this choice. If you make this choice you may have to spend a lot of money in marketing to tell your audience what your name means.
- Think about your website address when choosing a name for your art business. It can’t be too long and shouldn’t contain easily misspelled words. If you want people to find you on the internet choose a website name that is memorable and easy to type.
- Register your trade name with your secretary of state. And while you are at it you should also consider registering your trademark, logo or logo type – your secretary of can help you with this as well.
- Consider how your proposed name will be incorporated into your logo and abbreviated as initials. One of my students decided that that her proposed business name “Antique Stencil Studios” would not make a great abbreviation like IBM
- Come up with a list of several proposed names and test them out with your friends, advisors and others to get their reaction. Use your creativity!
The bottom line(s)
Your business name is an important part of your brand and can tell a little or a lot about you, your company and your art. Choose it wisely to promote your brand, sell more art and avoid future problems. If you would like to learn more about building your art business and selling more art I invite you to check out my book – The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox. Good Luck!
Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver where he teaches “Marketing the Arts”.
Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto