13 Tips to Naming Your Startup : Under30CEO 13 Tips to Naming Your Startup : Under30CEO
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13 Tips to Naming Your Startup

| February 10, 2012 | 4 Comments

Q. What one tip do you have for entrepreneurs in the “naming” stage of launching a startup?

Kenneth N., Detroit, MIThe following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth.

A. Make It Phonetic

lauraroederCrazy startup names and quirky misspellings have become quite a trend, but it’s frustrating for consumers. No one wants to have to spell out the name of a business every time they talk about it. Make your business name phonetic so that people will be able to Google it from hearing it out loud.

Laura Roeder, LKR

A. Focus on the Product First

Focus on building the best product you can; you can always choose its company name at the end. Don’t waste too much time or get stuck because of the name. Keep building and improving.

Ben Lang, EpicLaunch

A. Read the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

Read the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries and Laura Ries to get help naming your new company. Remember, with most businesses, generic names are doomed to fail. You want to be as different from your competitors as possible, so as to avoid possible confusion. Finally, before you pull the trigger, ask ten people to spell out your company name and see if they get it right!

Matt Mickiewicz, 99designs

A. Stay Away from Wit

Although you’ll see lots of stores and brands with cheeky, punny names, it is important to stay away from that. This is like getting a tattoo that seems good at the time, but you’ll later regret. Think about some of the leading brands; some of these are simply names or just one bold word. Keep it simple by boiling it down to its essence. Brevity is appealing, profound and confident.

Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr

A. What Do You Do?

louis lautmanFind a name that describes what you do. This way, there’s no question what your company is about. The company name will resonate with people more; they’ll have a much easier time finding you. Keep it simple and be able to express your services in two or three words maximum.

Louis Lautman, Young Entrepreneur Society

A. Get the .com Domain

loganlenzIn the case that you are struggling to come up with a memorable branding identifier, work backwards and start researching domains that may or may not be available. Use a domain suggestion tool like nameboy.com to come up with ideas. From there, pick a strong .com that makes the most sense. Then, brand accordingly.

Logan Lenz, Endagon

A. Can They Remember It?

Tell ten people the name you are considering. A week later, connect with them again and ask them to recall that name. How many people were able to accurately remember it? If it was less than seven, you may want to consider other more memorable alternatives that truly grab people’s attention.

Justin Beck, PerBlue

A. Evaluate the Search Competition

Before you file the paperwork, make sure you’re choosing a name that’s unique enough to come up on top of search results when someone Googles you. You don’t want to fight for the top as “Creative Industries LLC.” And an added bonus, a unique company name will make it easier to monitor for mentions of your company in social media and engage with your community.

Allie Siarto, Loudpixel

A. Don’t Get Sued over Sloppy Seconds

In the naming stage, you do not want to select a name that you may have to change later or, even worse, get sued for, because someone else has a registered trademark on the word or phrase. This can be easily be avoided by visiting the federal patent and trademark office’s site, USPTO.gov, and doing a search on any potential names.

Nick Cronin, ExpertBids.com

A. Crowdsource Your Ideas

Come up with some ideas on your own, but also enlist friends, family and other folks in the industry to come up with something unique and memorable. You could also turn to social networks to get other people’s opinions and ideas. Don’t forget to check if the domain name is available, too!

Heather Huhman, Come Recommended

A. Say It Out Loud!

Sometimes you come up with a name that looks great when written down, inspires a visual brand and makes for a snappy domain where the .com is still available. But how does it sound when you say it out loud? Do you feel proud and cool saying it or do you feel slightly embarrassed? You’re going to be using it a lot when you launch, so make sure it’s something that works well verbally.

Lea Woodward, Inspiring Ventures

A. It Doesn’t Matter!

The name of your company doesn’t matter. Yahoo? Google? Woot? Amazon? Zappos? Gatorade? Nike? These names don’t typically mean anything and the majority of them are made up. The key is to market your company well, reinforce your branding everywhere and try to do something unique and memorable. The more people see your name, the easier it is to remember it.

Jason Sadler, IWearYourShirt.com

A. Pick Something Versatile and Memorable

nathalielussierChoosing a startup name can be tricky, because chances are that the business you start today is not the business you’ll have three years from now. Think of companies like Yahoo and Google, who have evolved their products and offerings. Their company names still apply, and are both memorable enough to stick.

Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://www.businessservicereviews.com/ Marshall Davis

    One thing I have found interviewing small biz owners is that some of them don’t come up with the right name the first time around. It is vitally important that you really think through your name so that you don’t find yourself needing/wanting to change it down the line, which can be a marketing nightmare.

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  • Guest

    I have to take issue with Mr. Sadler, as most of those names do mean something. Google is a misspelling of googol, which is 10^100; Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest; Zappos is a play on zapatos, the Spanish word for shoes; Gatorade was originally developed for athletes at the University of Florida, who’s mascot is the Gators (thus Gator-aid); Nike is the Greek goddess of victory, another name for Athena. Yeah, not all of these directly relate to the main business of the company (and Woot is totally meaningless), but by and large these names do mean something, even if you’re not instantly aware of it.

  • Arry_Stark

    These are all wonderful tips but I think we can all agree that finding the perfect name can be a very time consuming and stressful process.  The one tip I would add to this list is that there are actually naming services out there that can save you a boatload of time.  For me, I really like http://biznamewiz.net. They have helped me so much by coming up with the perfect company name for me and there “namers” are seriously the nicest people to work with.