Checking Business Name and Registry in Ontario

Katlynn Sverko

Deciding what to call your startup is one of the most daunting tasks entrepreneurs experience. There are so many things to consider when naming your business such as accuracy, availability, memorability, spelling, meaning, and understandability. You are sure that people want your product or service, but will your name do your vision justice?

There are three components involved in deciding your business name:

  1. Accuracy and Memorability
  2. Name Registration Availability
  3. Domain and Social Availability


Accuracy and Memorability

Accuracy and memorability are crucial for someone to find your business as well as the ability of your business to be spread by word-of-mouth. Your name should be relatively easy to spell and remember to increase your chances of being found.

Tips on where to find name inspiration:

Another language: Asana, Kuvée

An individual: Tesla, Bell

Create your own word: Shopify, Zenefits

Descriptive: Two Men and a Truck, Access Now

Adjust spelling: Plooto, Gyft

Compound Words: Facebook, Linkedin

Use your own name: Margie’s Homemade Cookies, Matt & Steve’s Extreme Beans

Example: Both of these names could be used to register a friend matchmaking service, but which is easier to search for on Google or spread by word of mouth?

Freundschaftsbezeugung or friendli

Name Registration and Availability

Accuracy and memorability mean nothing if the name you wish to register is not available. Registering your business is an important aspect of legitimizing your company as it enables you to create business accounts under your company name. In Ontario, you can run a NUANS name search to establish if the name you are looking to use is available. Once you know if your name is available for registering you can begin the application through Service Ontario.

Name registration lasts 5 years. It must be renewed after this point if you wish to keep the name.



Domain and Social Availability

Your business name may be available in Ontario, but the difficulty with social networks and domain names is that they are global or national, rather than provincial. It may be perfectly okay for you to call your business Forget Me Not Studios in Ontario, but only find out later that there is a much more famous Forget Me Not Studios in Paris, France. The Parisian company may already own all of the social media handles you are considering and potentially own the domain you are looking to use as well. There are useful tools such as Namecheckr.com that will allow you to search the availability of your potential usernames across numerous social media platforms.

The more common or high demand the name, the availability decreases and price increases significantly. As a startup, think about the impact of spending on a domain name with a high price tag. There is a reason for the cost, which also likely means competitors. Make sure your customers can find you.



Wrap Up

In the end, make sure that your business name makes sense, it is both easily pronounced and spelled, the name is available for registration, and determine availability of domain names and social handles. If your social handle is not available, get creative, but keep it consistent across your platforms. 


Resources: 

GoDaddy Domain Search

Service Ontario: Register Business Name

NUANS: Name Search

Namecheckr.com