5 Pieces Of Advice When Naming A Business Or Startup

What Should I Name My Company?

“Is a company’s name really that important? What should I name my company?”

These are questions that all entrepreneurs will spend time asking themselves. It consumes a lot of time and sometimes even money. Why? Because it’s your company’s identity.

And you’ll find a lot of information out there, both facts and opinions, when it comes to naming your business. But whatever information you use to influence you decision, always remember this:


5 Pieces Of Advice When Naming Your Business Or Startup


And while you’re thinking about a name for your startup, follow these guidelines to avoid making the mistake that so many companies have made.

1. Know what others are doing.

Before you start coming up with examples of names, the first thing everyone should do is examine the names that their competitors are using. Understand the tone and style of the names being used and then make a decision as to whether you want to stick with the industry standard or depart from it.

Example: Probably the most famous example of this is Richard Branson’s company, Virgin. He explains in his book, Losing My Virginity, that his choice to break ranks was influenced by his idea that he wanted to make his company sound “pure and fresh.”

2. Trademark considerations.

I get that many startups are on a budget and can’t invest the time and money in trademark screening. But it’s a step that could save you a lot of headache (and money) in the future. If you’re forced to rebrand your company down the road, it could cost a lot more money, not to mention the loss in potential revenue from all the marketing efforts directed at your old name.

Example: Alkermes PLC sued Boston-based biotech startup Alkeus back in 2014 over the name, claiming that it will cause confusion the the industry because the names sound so similar.

3. What does your name communicate to your target market?

Ask yourself what your brand communicates and try to make it as simple as possible. Being able to easily tell your customers the story behind your name is a great measure of how simple and effective it is. If you have trouble explaining the name to people in a couple of sentences, you might want to consider using other names.

Example: Massage Envy uses two simple words to convey it’s message. The first word, massage, tells customers exactly what they do and the second word, envy, gives the feeling of desire to its audience.

4. Personality of the brand.

Just as names infer personality in people, the same applies to companies. What’s the first thing someone would think if they only heard your name? With that question in mind, you’d obviously want to avoid names that might draw puzzled looks or associate your brand with other unpopular companies. But you also want it to affect people at a subconscious level.

Example: Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs reveals why Jobs chose to stick with the name Apply because it was “fun, spirited and not intimidating.” Today, when people hear about Apple, they think of simplicity and education.

5. A good name is worth more than a domain name

A good domain name can do wonders for your business. There’s no doubt about it. Just ask Mint.com.

A lot of people tend to restrict themselves to available dotcoms and it’s understandable. Dotcoms enjoy favorable treatment over other domain extensions when it comes to SEO and dotcoms are easier for customers to memorize. However, the chances of you actually being able to secure an exact match dotcom is almost impossible and restricting yourself to them will seriously limit your options. Most likely, you’ll end up choosing an unpopular name, as those are typically the only dotcoms available.

Instead, focus on a good name and admit to yourself that you will have to choose something other than a dotcom.

Example: In the future, if you ever get as big as Instagram (and have the money), you can do what they did and change your domain from instagr.am to instagram.com.

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