A startup name. It’s what people use to identify your company, and it can seem like a daunting task. It’s the face of your company and everyone wants theirs to stick.
Why is a name important?
A bad company name can be a signal to investors that you’re not to be taken seriously. So don’t let mental blocks overwhelm you on your path to creating a great name and logotype.
Let's say you have your head set on a name and you love it. The only problem is, you’ve pitched it to your friends, and they don't get it.
[ Related Article: Secrets about great pitch decks]
The question is, how do you create a memorable name? It doesn’t have to be as hard as you think. Here are 14 tips that will help you with the challenges that come with choosing a startup name.
Follow the 5-10 rule. It’s the number of letters that startup names and the logotype should contain to be catchy and attractive to customers.
Example - Cisco, Apple, RayBan, Nikon. All these companies have short names and have been successful on the market for many years.
Simplicity is the key, a long name is harder to remember.
Example - Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web - it’s harder to memorize than Yahoo or Google.
Find the meaning
A story behind the best startup names gives it more character and makes it all the more special. If you have a smashing strategic marketing strategy to go along with it, it’ll make it all the more unique and memorable.
Example - Nike, it’s the Greek goddess of victory. The Nike marketing strategy uses the brand name to help their customers feel like winners.
Consider your logotype
Startup names should be easily applied in a graphic design. And the logotype and title should go hand in hand, complementing one another.
Looka's business name generator is the perfect tool for this one which combines generating business ideas while showing you logo ideas.
Example - The Soundcloud logo and name complement each other perfectly, as well as describing the purpose of the company in one word.
Startup names should be connected to the industry that they are working in. There's an abundance of companies that have done this both right and wrong. And some of them are pretty hilarious. If you want investors to take you seriously from the get-go, make sure your company vision and your logotype are one in the same.
Example - The startup Fat Lama, funnily enough, isn't related to overweight lamas, it's a local rental service that facilitates rentals from neighbors.
Check what your name means in different languages - don’t offend your potential customers. It's easy to let this one slip the mind, but to avoid a future upset, it's best to double check your company's name.
Example - Pupa, it’s a pretty controversial name in Poland...we’ll let you discover it’s translation for yourself.
Avoid picking a logotype that has been used before. There are tools that check whether or not your company name is taken, see section 'Use Expert Help'. And finally, startup names should be easy to pronounce.
Example - Xobni, is it Zombie...Snobby...nobody will ever know. The email analytics company also closed its doors back in 2013.
The best part about picking startup names and a logotype is the room for creativity.
You can start from scratch, forming a completely new word.
Or you can add a letter to your name, or at the end of a relevant word, like Thinkk Studio.
Drop a letter. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to drop one letter in a name - a famous example is Tumblr.
Suffix or Prefix. Use them both, like Bitly or Spotify
Combine two words.MailChimp is a perfect example, their strategic marketing plan is also very entertaining, unique and memorable. They took names that rhymed with or sounded like MailChimp, like 'MaleCrimp' and 'FailChips', turning these 'alternative' brand names into their own unique ad campaigns.
Use expert help
There are consultants in the market with an abundance of expert advice that can help you, but usually, it’s not cheap. Even so, here’s a list of some free online resources if you're open to anything.
A great startup name generator
An intelligent ranking and classification process that helps finds startup names.
Not just a cute logo, it's a search tool for domain names and company names.
Does what it says, it combines two or more words together.
A generator for business names.
AI-Powered Business Name Generator
Test your idea
Say it out loud. Check how your name sounds and get feedback. Ask your family and friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, the more opinions you get, the better.
If you have the resources to be able to test the market, try advertising your company with different names and logotypes to see what works best.
Don’t pick names that suggest unpleasant situations or have negative connotations. At worst, your company could shut down, at best, it'll give people a good laugh. If you get it wrong the first time, it's not the end of the world, you can choose to rename your company and rebrand.
Example - This startup was a place for fashionista teenagers to crowdsource fashion advice. The name? Fashism...needless to say, the company shut down in 2013.
Take your time
The best things come to those who wait. If you really want to have a logotype that will turn heads, it’s better to spend more time creating the proper name, rather than rebranding the whole company later.
However, there are a number of companies that have rebranded, changing their name along the way. If you do feel that your company is in need of a name change, which is an exciting journey in itself, make sure to keep a few things in mind.
Is your name no longer relevant? Is it too generic? Are you having copyright issues? Maybe issues with trademarking a name? Or is it just way too much of a mouthful? If you check at least one of these questions, it's worth going through the process of finding a new startup name.
Check company name availability
It's always annoying when you think you've finally found the one, check company name availability and find out that it has already been taken, or even worse, it's trademarked. There are an unlucky few that didn't find out their name was under copywrite until much later.
Example - One famous example would be between the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and WWF (World Wrestling Federation), now named WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). The two entered into a 13 year long legal battle of the acronym.
It's possible that you could encounter some legal issues when you're naming your company. In the U.S., you can check the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the European Union Intellectual Property Office in the EU, to avoid this kind of situation. These are essential steps when on your way top trademarking a name.
Geographic names - it's helpful if you're limiting your strategic market to the area you're referring to, but if your looking to expand outside your local areas, avoid it. They limit your market potential, it’s not usually beneficial if you want to expand your business to other areas.
Example - Kentucky Fried Chicken is one of the most well-known examples who came across this issue. Instead, they rebranded, abbreviating their name to KFC.
Initials and numbers, it may have significance to you, but to a wider audience? In some cases, a logotype having a set of initials or numbers can make the company unmemorable, unless these initials and numbers hold significance to lots of people, but the chances of that are very low.
Compare to others
Check if your startup’s name stands out from competitors. If your name is bog standard it'll run a risk of sounding generic, and your chance of standing out will be rather slim.
Last but not least, pick a name that you like! It’s your creation, be proud of it, because you’re going to work with it for a long time.
Think international, make sure that your company doesn’t make too many embarrassing logo mistakes by choosing names that have already been used, or choosing a name that means something offensive in another language. It’s fairly common.
All in all, mental blocks can be a difficult feat to overcome. But to get the best results, go into the naming process with an open slate. Don’t let your wants and need get in the way of creating the name that’s going to make you memorable to investors and customers alike.