Startups begin with a bright idea but to move forward it needs to take shape and form. Name is one of the fundamental things that would be a starting point for further branding and designs. So you can say picking the name you really choosing the fate for the whole product.
And yet, from our practice, this decision is often taken rather irresponsible mostly because it seems to pale in comparison to the other decisions on the initial stage (Budget, monetization, marketing, etc.)
But you need to keep in mind – it’s the first chance the product gets to make an impression. Besides the technical aspects like available domain on the emotional level, it should represent your brand, attract attention, build a connection, and trust with your customers.
So obviously there are a lot of details to talk about while thinking about the name. So let’s hop right in!
STEP 1. Form the core.
If you haven’t already defined the fundamental moments like – the purpose/mission of your startup, this is what you should start from. What problem your startup will solve, what will be the solution that you provide to customers?
Working through these points you will shape the essence of your brand its ambition.
STEP 2. Define your target audience.
Defining your target audience and understanding their goals, background, and values will help to see: the line that would be appropriate or not, what they might consider as clever and easy-to-remember name, what most likely associating they might build.
To do this, try to outline the following characteristics of your ideal customer:
— Background, Demographics: age, role, company & income.
— Hobbies/ Interests
— Goals: Short, long term.
— Daily Challenges/ Problems
STEP 3. Brainstorm the idea.
As a simple solution, you can think through the keywords that might be associated with your startup, pick a few, and start working on them. Make different variations, transform, or combine two of them. Play around, build associations.
Consider to use convenient online services, there are numerous free solutions that will suggest options based on the keywords or visuals. Looking through the suggestions might give you some new ideas.
STEP 4. Work through DO’s and DON’Ts.
– Don’t pick a Hard-to-Spell name
As easier, the name is to pronounce as more likely the customers will remember it. Sharing the name with the family and friends, would not be that awkward, clients themselves will act as agents of your brand. Choosing a simple, clean name makes this process much easier for your customers.
– Don’t pick a Long name
Crossing with the previous one long names are harder to memorize and they might confuse the potential customers. Also, long names come with long URLs and problems to fit it in social media.
– Don’t be too generic
There is a line between easy and understandable names and generic definitions. You need to remember this to make your product recognizable.
– Don’t settle on just adding “ly” at the end
There is not much to say about this, the trend is overused and not relevant anymore.
– Don’t pick a name that could limit your business growth
Opposite of ‘being too generic’ picking very narrow ones is a mistake too. Don’t add the specific city to the name or product type, you can’t be sure on how your company will scale in the future. There are a ton of examples of companies that started selling one specific item and now have numerous categories available.
– Don’t rush it
Naming a new product is always a challenge, sometimes it would take turning off thousands of options before finding ‘the one’. Don’t rush this process because it’s ultimately much more risky and costly to change it on the way.
– Don’t use in-jokes. One of the most valuable lessons to share, the name of the business needs to mean something to your target audience. And if this might sound funny for you, inside jokes can be too much for your clients.
+ Make it catchy
Make your customers remember it. Wrap it with the creative branding idea. There’s no way to predict if it will be catchy or not so make sure to get some feedback.
+ Think globally
Even simple and short names can be translated to something weird in other languages. So you need to keep this in mind. Even though great products can’t be ruined because of this, but can cut-off some specific countries’ markets.
+ Make your business name a good story.
Names that tell the story and bring some insights, inspiration also build a connection and initial trust with the client. Which leads to strong associations.
+ Focus on what makes your company different.
Tink of things that differentiate you from the competitors and base on it to outline your uniqueness.
STEP 5. Get feedback on the names.
Narrowing the list of the names that you like, share them with your friends, family members, and colleagues that you trust. Ideally, get feedback from your target audience as well.
STEP 6. Research if you can get a trademark and make Secretary of State search.
Do research to get an idea as to whether you can get a trademark or service mark for the name.
If you planning to structure your business as a corporation or LLC, you should do a search of the Secretary of State’s records to make sure your name won’t be too similar to names that already registered.
STEP 7. Check the domain name and social media.
Look if such a domain is available. Even if other extensions such as .net, .biz, or .org are available we would still recommend sticking to the .com
Also, make sure to check the social media, as a brand you want to be consistent across all your marketing channels. See if certain social media handles are taken. Having different social media handles on each platform will confuse your customers. And can ruin your efforts to build brand awareness for the company.
STEP 8. Shortlist your options.
You’ve finished forming your list of names, and what next? To narrow this list you can simply create a rating table comparing each one of them by the needed criteria.
Questions to think about while filling: Is the name related to business? How nicely does the name look? Can I imagine further branding, logo based on the name?Does it sound good?
Here’s an example:
STEP 9. Purchase the Domain and Register the Trademark
Last but not least!
It’s time to buy the domain, register your company on all social media, and register the trademark for the company name.
Finding the perfect name for your business can be an exhausting task. You need to be ready to spend some time and put a real effort into it. It will represent your business for years to come so make sure you happy with the outcome.
Working on it from the start means a lot for the future company, reducing the risks coming with changing the name in the future. Whether you’re struggling to come up with a name or you have a name in mind but unsure how to proceed, use this guide to help you finalize the decision.