How to Name Your Startup?
Choosing what to name your startup is the first chance to make an impression. On an emotional level, a great company name should help your customers understand your brand, attract attention, connect to your audience and cultivate trust. On a technical level, it must be available for you to use as an online domain to set up your business website.
Very few first-time founders realize how intimately connected things like brand positioning, brand personality, knowing your customers, and knowing the naming norms of your industry are to choosing a great brand name. This is why we’ve put together some tips and tricks for you to avoid learning lessons on brand naming the hard way.
Don’t Get Caught Up in Perfectionism
There is no such thing as a perfect name. Inexperienced and enthusiastic startup founders tend to be perfectionists when it comes to their businesses. After all, this is their baby and their first one for that matter. So, they want to get everything absolutely right. And we applaud and respect them on their smart instincts. As a startup founder, you should be triple-checking business plans, expenditure calculations, job candidates, etc. But at the same time, at a certain point, you also need to have realistic expectations, or else you would be waiting forever for “a name that does it all”.
Let’s take the example of the leading e-commerce company, Amazon. Do you think Jeff Bezos thought Amazon was the perfect name? Highly unlikely. It’s a great name. Memorable, easy to say and spell, has resonates strongly with his brand without any awkward double meanings. But is it perfect? Far from it – and Amazon’s success wasn’t riding only on their name. They disrupted an industry and capitalized on that. The name just had to start the brand dialogue, not finish it.
Analyze your Industry
This one seems a little technical at first, but let’s break down what it actually means. You know your industry and what sector it belongs to. But do you know the names of all your competition? If not, make a list of the ones you like and ask yourself why they’re aligning with you. The most common naming forms include: Blends (Microsoft), Real Word (Apple), Foreign Words (Ubuntu), This and That (Ben & Jerry’s).
From this point, you can work backward to complete the industry puzzle and outline naming conventions for businesses in the same sector as yours. For example, it is common among tech companies to use compound words and misspellings for their brand name. Examples include; Lyft, Grindr, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. So, if you run a tech company, maybe this is where you start. As for other industries, if you aren’t sure you can work it out by taking a look at that list of leading industry names you made.
Decide Whether you Want to Fit in or Stand Out
Once you’ve figured out the naming conventions of your industry, you need to determine whether you want to lean into them or play against them. It’s easier to lean in, of course, as that will clearly indicate to your customer base exactly what you do, and what to expect from your brand.
However, if you play against your competition, your business is expected to stand out. Overall, you can roll the ‘fit in’ or ‘stand out’ decision during your brainstorming sessions with the team. Come up with a few ideas for both, and then go from there.
That brainstorming stage we just talked about is kind of the heart of the whole brand naming process. There are a huge number of ways to go about brainstorming, but our first tip is not to come from a place of nervousness or embarrassment. You’re trying to open yourself (and your team) up to creativity, and anxiety kills creativity pretty quickly.
We always advise startup founders to start brainstorming a few keywords that can be associated with their business. This is a collection of words and phrases that relate to your brand, products, vision and ethos. From there, you can start playing with them. This is where you use the list of name types we’ve mentioned above to make variations and find patterns. The brainstorming phase will allow you to build ideas, sentences and concepts that might lead to a name.
The first time you go through the naming process, it can become overwhelming. Don’t let that get you down or consume you. Brainstorming is a loose, freewheeling process. Allow that to happen, and soon you’ll have a killer shortlist of names for your brand new, first-ever, world changing business venture.
It is important to keep in mind that the principles of naming are the same the first time you name a business and the 20th time. The rules don’t change, but you change. You learn what is important in branding a new business and choosing a name, over time with experience.
Finding the perfect name for your business can be a daunting task as there are many challenges and obstacles to overcome. However, once you do find the right match, everything will feel more natural as you will have a name that you can be proud of and stand behind. One that’ll be memorable, easy to pronounce, and will hopefully cause shock waves in your respected market.