4 Golden Rules for Naming Your New Startup Business6:45 AM
Naming a business is not as simple as you might think. what constitutes a great startup name? What makes one name better than another? What...
Naming a business is not as simple as you might think. what constitutes a great startup name? What makes one name better than another? What’s in a startup name? When it comes to your business, everything. Once it just went on a letterhead, business card and on a name plaque outside your business – end of story.
A great name reduces the friction between your company and the market. It makes it easier for people to find you. Easier for people to talk about you. Sometimes, even easier for people to trust you.
Please be noted: startup naming is more art than science. What do you think is important when picking a name? Which startup names do you love? Which ones do you think are just kind of meh?
What should you be thinking about when you go about choosing a name? Here are the four steps I went through which I think every entrepreneur should think about.
1. Think hard about the type of name you wantWhen it comes down to it there are only a few categories of company name. First comes the “surname and surname” or place name approach, second are the made up names (Accenture for one) and then you have the more evocative names from everyday objects (Orange or Apple).
The type of name you will choose will reflect the type of business you are. Safe traditional brands or those wanting to convey that impression like to lean on the heritage of surnames or place names while challenger brands such as Virgin go for bolder names which draw on the meaning of the word chosen.
Think about the names of businesses typically you will be competing with and think about how your customers would feel about using your potential name to decide which type of brand you want and from there you can build your shortlist of names.
2. Unique and unforgettableIn the trade, this is called “stickiness.” But the issue of stickiness turns out to be kind of, well, sticky. Every company wants a name that stands out from the crowd, a catchy handle that will remain fresh and memorable over time. That’s a challenge because naming trends change, often year by year, making timeless names hard to find (remember the dot.coms).
3. Don't create conceptual or technical hurdles.
Just put it simply: "You don’t need a big idea for your name. You need a name for your big idea." If you have to constantly explain the meaning or the pronunciation of your name to people, especially people that you pitch to, that's a major hurdle. In no way should your name be a disconnect from what you want to accomplish with your brand.
The shorter in length, the better. Limit it to two syllables. Avoid using hyphens and other special characters. Since certain algorithms and directory listings work alphabetically, pick a name closer to A than Z. These days, it even helps if the name can easily be turned into a verb, like Google me.
4. Make sure the name is availableThis may sound obvious, but a miss here will cost you dearly. Your company name and Internet domain name should probably be the same, so check out your preferred names with your State Incorporation site, Network Solutions for the domain name, and the U.S. Patent Office for Trademarks.3. Check the domain name is available
Once you have this short list of names you need to check that you can get a website which is more or less in line with the company name.
Once you have gone through these four steps, you’re pretty much ready to go ahead and choose your final name.
Sense check this with potential customers and friends to get a feeling as to whether the name is too off-the-wall to use but remember not everyone will love it.
As soon as you have decided, remember the domain name is as important as the company name so get these registered as quickly as possible.