A Guide to Naming Your Business

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet… but would it sell as many flowers? Naming. It’s one of the most exciting and potentially frustrating parts of starting a business. Exciting, because it’s creative and can really set the tone for your brand. Frustrating, because you may find the name you fell in love with is already taken. Here’s how we approach naming with our clients.

A Guide to Naming Your Business • Picnic Creative Office

Start with a huge list of potential company names.

We usually come up with at least 100 names. Some of them will seem silly, lots will be okay and a few will really stand out — getting everything out on paper will help you start coming up with iterations and possibilities, and this is the time to be open minded. Here a few general tips as you brainstorm:

  1. Try to think of unique names, but not so different that no one will ever remember it.

  2. Two syllable names are easier for people to remember, and spell.

  3. Names that are phonetic (spelled exactly how they sound) lead to fewer misspellings in your search results, email, etc.

Pick 3-5 that make sense for your ideal customer.

Think about your future customers (if you haven't done this already, check out our Tips for Entrepreneurs post). If you’re selling a really high end product, you’ll probably want a name that’s sophisticated and elegant vs. one that’s cute and basic. 

Check if your business name is available.

  • Check the business registration records for your state. This is usually available online through the Secretary of State website where you live. If someone’s running a business with the name in a similar or related industry with the same name, toss it. When we did this for our business, we found that there was a “Picnic Creative” in Spain — we’re okay with that and the potential for confusion is pretty low. There’s also a “Picnic” restaurant in Portland. Again, the potential for confusion is really low since it’s such a different industry. If we’d been starting a food cart instead of a design and marketing business, we would have eliminated this name.

  • Google it.
    See what kinds of businesses and websites come up. Again, if there’s something too similar, eliminate it. You also want to make sure there’s nothing weird or unsavory that will come up if your customers google your name, leading them to sheepishly close their browser windows and clear their history, never returning to your site again. Seriously, it comes up. The internet can be a gross place.

  • Go to namechk.com for a one-stop search of social media usernames, urls & trademarks.
    Green boxes means your selection is available on that channel. If you specialize in a specific product or service, try tweaking the name with one or two descriptive words. “Balance Hot Yoga” or “Balance Yoga LA” should start opening up more results than “Balance” alone.

  • Go to namecheap.com to see url costs.
    Guessing what url’s people may want someday is a business unto itself and there are people who’ve made a fortune parking url’s. We recommend looking for options that are $12 or less annually and use .com. There are a lot of new domain extensions out there like .co, .biz, .us, .xyz and even .pizza, but .com is still the easiest for people to remember and the most common.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find something you love that’s available in your first round. If the names you loved were already taken, go back to your list, or keep brainstorming to come up with additional options.

Register and claim your name.

At the very least you’ll want to register your name with your state so someone searching later sees that it’s taken. You’ll also want to buy your url, and claim your handle on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram (whether or not you plan on using them — you don’t want someone else Facebooking under your name and having it come up in web search results).

Decide if you need to trademark.

If you’re selling a niche product or service in a pretty targeted geographic area, and you’ve done all of the above, you can probably skip this step.

If you’re in a big industry, particularly the food or beverage category, and selling nationally, you may want to contact a trademark lawyer and go through the official process of registering your business name. We’ve seen everything from cease and desist letters to confusion during government reviews because of business names that were too similar. It might seem expensive now, but trust us, it’s a lot cheaper than changing your name, your logo, and every single spot where it appears down the road if you run into an issue.

Need help with naming, branding, marketing or a future graphic design project? Shoot us a note.

See our latest tasty work on Instagram @Hello_Picnic

Celena Carr
Tips for Side Hustlers and Entrepreneurs

Starting things can be hard — whether it’s a blog, a business… or an orange. We work with a lot of first-time business owners, startups, side hustlers and entrepreneurs, so we thought we’d kick off our blog with a series on things you should know as you’re starting up. Here are our 4 simple tips for any business getting ready to open up shop.

Tips for Side Hustlers & Entrepreneurs • Picnic Creative Office


Get specific about who you’re serving.

You’ve probably already decided what your business is going to sell. But how much have you thought about who’s going to buy it? Companies with a well-defined target are more successful than those who try to serve everyone. So if your target market is very broad, like “people who own a house,” or “pet owners,” sit down and dig a little deeper.

Write about your ideal customer: How old are they? What are their other interests? Where do they live? What’s their income level? What are their pain points, and how will your business uniquely solve them?

For example, in our field, there are a lot of designers, writers and marketers out there. We specialize in working with small businesses and startups in the U.S. who make craft products or sell specialty services. Our clients tend to have big agency tastes, but need to work within freelancer budgets. We solve this by keeping our overhead low and our processes flexible so we can create killer work on tighter budgets.



Understand your startup and monthly costs.

Starting a business can cost anywhere from $100 to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending what you do. The costs of starting a personal coaching business are going to be a lot different than those of starting a craft brewery.

A lot of the first time businesses we see that don’t make it off the ground didn’t take the time to understand their budgets.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • If you’re making a product, how will you prototype it and how much will that cost? Where will you source materials, and do you need any labor other than your own to build it?

  • Do you need a logo, photography, a website, brochures, business cards or other branded materials to get going?

  • What are you going to use for your company’s email, phone number, etc?

  • What does it cost to register a business in your state?

  • Do you need any special software to track expenses, orders, inventory, etc?

  • Do you need to rent or buy space for the business or to store inventory?

Sit down and think through everything you need to get started and then do a little research to estimate your costs — both for starting up, and month-to-month. 



Decide what you can do, and what you need help with.

One of the top qualities we’ve noticed in successful entrepreneurs is they have a great understanding of their skills and what they need help with.

We’ve worked with clients who are amazing photographers and take care of that themselves. We have other clients who are great writers and do their own blogs and social media. And we have some who are amazing salespeople, but they want help with blogging, social media and SEO.

Everyone’s different. The key is to honestly assess where you bring the most value to your business and focus your efforts there. You can make the money you spend on photography or writing back. You can’t win back sales you lost because your product didn’t look or sound as good as the competition’s, or because your website didn’t make it really easy to buy your product or hire you.



Set reasonable & achievable goals.

While it would be amazing to hit six-figures of sales, or sell thousands of products in your first year, it’s pretty unlikely. When you’re starting up, it takes time for people to be aware of your business and to work out any kinks.

Make sure your goals for the first year or two take this into account, and that you know how you're going to make a living, either through savings, outside funding or a day job. Many successful businesses start as side hustles.

For the business owners out there — what’s the best advice you’ve gotten? And for anyone just getting started with their business — what questions do you have for future posts?

Send your comments or hit us up for a free design and marketing quote.

Celena Carr
Celebrating One Year!

Last year we launched our business, working everywhere from Oregon to Maine. Our travels sparked inspiration for our client work, from logos and labels to e-books and websites, as well as some self-initiated projects to share our love of travel, camping and the outdoors.

A few highlights included creating a new brand and website for the gents over at Makers Woodworks, refreshing the brand and designing a new sparkling wine label for one of our favorite Oregon wineries, De Ponte, designing a clean, modern client report for Inde, helping Sommi Wine Cellars launch a new product line, and launching some of our own outdoors-inspired t-shirt and swag designs in our Society6 shop

This year is already off to a busy start, and we can't wait to see where it takes us, and all of you!