Picking the Perfect Name for Your Startup

Thu, Oct 4, 2012


A rose by any other nameYou’ve landed on a concept, and the product or service that you can bring to market that is unique to what anyone else is doing. It’s time to launch your new venture, but what do you call it? Coming up with the perfect name for your startup is such a huge decision, and there is no way to know for sure if you’re going in the right direction. Part of it comes down to feeling, part to research and part to dumb luck. But coming up with a name that helps you create brand recognition and customer loyalty is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, especially at this point in your business life. Here are a few tips to help you land on that perfect startup name.

First off, ask yourself if the company name is also going to be the brand. This will mostly come down to your industry, but will you be known for a single product, or a wide range of them? Think of Coca Cola or T-Mobile, where the name of the company is also the name of their most recognized product. If this works for you, then take as much time as you need to come down to the right answer. You can always change the name of a product if it doesn’t test well with consumers, but changing the name of your startup after you’ve gone through the costs of incorporating is very difficult.

Another option that has worked for many, and is definitely an easy route to go is naming the startup after yourself. You don’t have to look very far to find some hugely successful international companies named after the founders. The only issue here is that you are to a certain extent linking the future of your company to an individual. Sure, at this point it is a startup, and your baby, so you probably can’t think of a time when you wouldn’t be involved. But what if you are hugely successful and want to sell the company at some point? It’s a long-term problem, but one you should consider in any case.

Before you go any further, make sure you check for any possible conflicts with the name that appeals to you. If you are just launching as a DBA, or will be incorporating and trademarking your name, you must make sure it is available. You don’t want to take on comparisons to a pre-existing company, or create confusion in the marketplace. Do your due diligence until you are 100% satisfied that the company name is uniquely your own. And check out the options for website addresses as well. A startup’s online presence is so important these days that you might want to come up with another name if the one you like doesn’t have any easy available web addresses.

Now run the name you like past some trusted friends and associates. Is it easy to use and remember? Can it be spelled simply, without having to reach for a dictionary? Is it difficult to say, or to understand what it means? What sort of connotations does it bring up? While the name means one thing to you, it may come across quite differently to others. Just make sure that the impression that lands with people is similar to the one you want to make before locking that name in.

Finally, make sure your name is distinctive. You want it to be clear and easy to understand, but consider alternate spellings or number inclusions that could help it stand out from the crowd. There are just too many brands cluttering the market these days. It doesn’t take earning an online MBA in leadership to see why certain brand names work over others. So test your name carefully before launching with it, and good luck with your new business endeavor!

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