Starting a T-Shirt Business: Picking a Name

Starting a t-shirt business is not difficult, but it does take several steps to get started.

There are different areas to think about when getting started. You have creative areas, such as coming up with your name and branding. These things tend to be more fun.

You also need to take care of the legal areas, such as filing the proper paperwork. These tend to not be so much fun, but you don’t want to skip these steps, as it could come back to bite you.

The other area to think about when getting started, is to actually set up your accounts with suppliers, and getting the necessary equipment you need to physically start printing your own shirts.

The first thing you will probably want to do when starting your own t-shirt business is to choose a name for your business. Choosing your name is actually more complicated than you might think.

Don’t worry. If this is your first time, we will help point you in the right direction and the things you will want to consider.

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. This is to help point you in the right direction and give you inspiration. If you are unsure of any part of the legal aspect of starting a business, contact an attorney for legal advice.


Picking a Name for Your New Business

Starting a t-shirt business is an exciting new step you are taking. Make sure you are having fun! Especially in this first step: choosing a name.

A t-shirt business is a business that allows you to be creative. This is your first chance at creativity.

Before we get started, keep in the back of your mind that any name you choose, may already be taken. We will talk about this more later and how to check if your name is taken or not. At this point, we simply wanted to point this out so you know it will be coming up later and to keep it in mind.

The first step, we recommend, is to get out your pen and paper (and a good cup of coffee). It’s time to brainstorm business name ideas.

think of a t-shirt business name

Think of things you enjoy – hobbies, people, places, pets, interests, etc. Write down words and phrases that come to mind. Refrain from scratching out ideas or erasing. Just write down everything. They are just ideas at this stage. Even if you don’t use something for your business name, it may end up being a good tag line instead!

Don’t get caught up in any particular idea either. If you think of something you really like, put a star next to it.

Just because you thought of the idea now, it doesn’t mean that you can use it, so don’t get too excited yet at this point.

While you think of names, also keep in mind visual logo ideas. If anything comes to mind, sketch these out, too.

Again, don’t get too overly excited on one idea.

On the other hand, don’t get too frustrated either if you can’t come up with anything right away. Thinking of a good business name may take time.

If you feel like you’re getting stuck, put it down and walk away for a while. After you take a break, come back and try again.

Try talking it out with friends and family members. This may spark an idea for you.

When choosing a business name, consider these aspects:

  • Spelling a business name
  • Creating a catchy business name
  • Don’t limit your business
  • Does it fit your market
  • How does it feel
  • Exit plan

Spelling a Business Name

A unique name for your company is important. However, don’t get too unique. If your name has a different spelling for words than what is normal, it may be hard for people to find you when they are looking for you.

Consider how people will find you. They will search for you on Google or another search engine. If they have the spelling wrong, you may not appear.

If they are looking for you on social media and are typing in your name, if they don’t have it exactly correct, you may not show up there either.

The same is true for a phone book. For those who still use this method, if your spelling is different than what people assume, then they won’t find you in the phone book either.

You don’t want to lose business because it was a cute or creative idea to spell your name with a “z” instead of an “s”.

In a different aspect of spelling, if it’s too confusing, people may not even know how to pronounce your name. You want to avoid this scenario. If it looks like it can be pronounced in various ways, it will be pronounced in all of those ways and no one will know the correct way to say it.

This will be harder to build your brand. We will talk more about your brand in a bit.

Creating a Catchy Business Name

A unique business name doesn’t have to have a different spelling to be unique. You can create good business name that will be catchy in other ways.

Avoid using general words that won’t stand out. You want your business name to be memorable so people don’t forget about you.

If it’s too plain and generic, you’ll just blend in with the rest of the crowd. This is also true when you use overused words.

When your name isn’t unique, there will be no differentiation between you and the t-shirt business down the road.

Don’t Limit Your Business

Think ahead and don’t trap yourself in a corner by being too specific when you choose your business name. For example, Tina’s T-Shirts may seem great right now because you want to sell t-shirts.

What happens next year when you decide you want to also sell custom bags, blankets, caps, and more? If you are using a heat press to print your t-shirts, you can print just about any other apparel as well.

Not only with products, but don’t limit yourself in geography. If you use your city’s name, what happens when you grow and expand into your surrounding areas. Prospective customers may not come to you because they assume you may not cover their area.

blank apparel for printing

Does it Fit Your Market

When choosing your t-shirt business name and logo, consider your overall brand. You mean there’s more to a brand than just a name and logo? There sure is.

People connect with brands that resonate with them. A brand is made up of the overall experience a customer has with the company. It includes all the messaging. It includes the perception. It includes the lifestyle. Does a customer connect with the image of the company?

[Related Content: A Quick Brand Guide for Lasting Results]

Knowing your target market that you want to sell to will help you know if your name and logo will align with your brand.

Does it reflect the experience you want your customers to have with you? Does it appeal to them? Can they make the connection?

You want your name to make an emotional connection with your target market. As we mentioned above, be clear on your name. Make sure it is easy to pronounce without any confusion. If they don’t know if they are even pronouncing your name right, it will be hard to feel like they are connecting with it.

Your name should be clear on what you do. If it doesn’t explain your business and what you do, a prospective customer may pass you by because they simply don’t think you can offer them what they are looking for, so don’t be too generic.

Use words, language, and images that fit with your market and something they will recognize.

The Feel of your Name

Don’t forget to consider how it feels. Does it resonate with you? Does it feel right? Are you happy with it? Can you move forward with it?

If you’re excited about it, then your excitement will rub off on other people. If you are just ok with it, then that will show, too. Nobody wants to buy from someone who isn’t even excited about it themselves.

Besides your own personal emotional feeling about it, how does it roll off your tongue when you say it out loud?

Is it easy to say or is it hard? You don’t want it to be too difficult to say like a tongue twister. It has to have a nice flow.

Tactics for a good flow include using alliteration or rhyming. Another method is the balance and use of syllables.

Exit Plan

Finally, does your business name allow for you to exit in the manor that you would like to. What I mean by this is to plan ahead. Where do you want your business to take you?

If you build a very successful business, you may have the option of selling it. If you do sell it, will someone want to buy the business from you if it contains your personal name?

They still may want to buy it because of the business, but what if they want to re-brand? This may lower your selling price.

This is something to definitely consider.


The Legal Side of Picking Your Business Name

Ok, once you have a couple names you like, it’s time to take the next step. This step may not be as much fun, but it’s still necessary. It can even be a little disappointing.

This next step is to now see what is actually available.

If someone is already using your name or something close to it, you’ll need to choose a different name. That’s why we didn’t want you to get too attached to any particular idea, because it can disappear as an option fairly quickly. Don’t let that deflate your excitement.

To see if someone is using your name, first start by searching it with Google. See what search results show up.

If something does come up, what industry are they in? If it is something completely different, you still may be able to use it yourself.

Search the name on social media as well. This will also give you an initial idea if someone is already using the name. Again, even if someone is using it, is it the same industry as you.

These searches will not only let you know if the name is available to use itself, but also the domain name availability and the social media handles. Take these into consideration as well when you are picking a business name.

[Recorded Webinar: How to Use Social Media to Promote Your T-Shirt Business]

After searching these, if it looks like you may be in the clear to use your name, you now have to actually see if it is legally taken.

Check for trademarks and registration use. You can check this by going to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website and using their search tool to search their database.

Search the name you want to use, but also variations of the name. If there is a variation of the same name, it may limit you from using your name. This is known as “likelihood of confusion”.

If you have any questions or not sure if you are able to use your name, it is best to contact an attorney for legal advice.

Filing the Proper Paperwork For Your Business Name

Once you have determined that the name you want to use is actually safe to use without infringing on anyone else business, it’s time to take the next step in taking action to make it your own.

This part is probably the most confusing part and will definitely vary in different areas, states and countries.

You will need to file the necessary paperwork that your city, county, state, or country requires.

You need to choose how you are going to set up your business – as a sole proprietor, LLC, corporation, etc.

When choosing a name for your business, you will need to register it so your state government knows you are in business. This is your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name. This is your legal business name. Some states do not require this, though.

You can read more about this at the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Once your business is set up with the proper paperwork in your area, you will have a tax ID that you will use for filing your taxes and also to set up business accounts with suppliers.


Setting up your T-Shirt Business Accounts

The last step after you choose your business name and file the proper papers, is to set up your accounts.

Now that you have your official name, you can move forward in setting up your domain registration for your website. You can read an in-depth guide here on how to set up your own website and hosting.

[Related Content: How to Create a Website for Your T-Shirt Business]

You can also now set up your social media accounts with your name.

With your tax ID and business name, you can start seeking out suppliers so you can make your custom apparel. First, decide on how you are going to print your own t-shirts.

Using a heat press and custom transfers is the easiest and fastest way to print your own custom shirts. A heat press is the only piece of equipment you will need to do this.

[Related Content: New to Heat Printing? Where to Begin]

Transfer Express is your one stop shop for printing your own custom apparel. We have a full line of heat presses, custom screen printed and rhinestone transfers, along with a variety of blank wholesale apparel for you to print on. Sign up to try our online designer, Easy View, where you can design your shirts for free as a customer.

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