10 tips how to name your startup
- Mirka Pastierová ·
- 18453 views
We were surprised how much time company founders spend coming up with a name. When you are dedicating so much effort to doing that, you had better do it well. Setting up a business is wonderful. Do not jeopardise the transnational growth of your company with a name that is either regional or too much bound to one product category. There are actually many more rules. You ought to read them now rather than spend your money and time later on rebranding.
Rule 1: Think about the product, not the name
A good name will not save you. Spending time imagining one will take time away from more important things you are good at. Instead of fighting with your co-founders about the name, think about the functionality of the product or the service. See a good name as a bonus to help you, not an idol to sell you.
Rule 2: Prioritise your client and product
The most important thing is to start the business. Give yourself a temporary name, but especially start working on the product as soon as possible. Either your name is going to come during the process or, if you need to be secure about your domains, let the professionals invent a name for you. It is easier to choose between names than to make one up. Save yourself time!!!
Rule 3: Rebel if you are a true rebel
Did a friend tell you to call your firm SHITKESHEW, or JÁĽÝQQQQLOT and you would still be successful? Excellent, do it and video record the faces of officials and clients when you tell them your name. It may become a viral campaign :)
Rule 4: Do not turn your words into a minefield
Nothing is worse than when you are pitching your project to someone, wishing to talk about it briefly, and then the person tells you three times “I don’t understand! What’s it called?" It may be a minor thing, but the atmosphere is gone. Unless you are an experienced presenter, it can make you nervous. Be sure what you are saying is easy to understand, clear and sexy. And that you know how to pronounce it :) Investors and clients have no time for you. Unless you can be understood, their brains will shut off.
Rule 5: Think of journalists and your investors
Journalists will often ask you what your name means. Do not let the chance get away for an interesting story. Always have a name that sells you emotionally or respond with a description of your product's properties in response. Treat the article they are going to write like free advertising.
A) Story name
Your answer can lead the conversation to the topic you want to speak about. If the story behind your name says you heard the word while you were standing in a temple in Kuala Lumpur while you were travelling around the world, any journalist is certainly going to ask you about your travels. If your start-up involves travelling, this is great possibility to tell a traveller's story, not just an entrepreneur’s one.
B) Marketing name
When we advise start-ups about how to reach out to investors, we tell them to never forget to bait them with a rhetorical question and three basic single-phrase answers:
1. What does our start-up do?
2. How is it doing?
3. What is the result for the client?
Rule 6: Do not make a big deal about your name
Forget about press releases telling what your name stands for. Write press releases about what you are doing. As soon as you praise your name, you can wait for hordes of haters or grammar Nazis to tell you the mistakes you made with it. But then, you can point them to Tumblr, del.icio.us (delicious), digg, flickr, Google (googol). People are opposed to new things, anything new sounds a bit strange for them because the human brain has not heard about it yet. Give your name time to come alive. Let people speak about your project, not the name.
Rule 7: Do not be overwhelmed by your ego
The fact that someone’s terrible name is successful does not mean that the name has made him or her successful, but nevertheless :) remember Point 1. "See a good name as a bonus to help you." Look at your name like a long-term ad campaign. Arguments such as "But Google also has two O’s in the name and it’s famous" do not work until you have a unique service like Google’s.
Rule 8: Resist fashion
In the previous blog we wrote about the year 2008, when the bizarre, so-called web 2.0 names appeared: Diigo, Yoono, Heekya, Oooooc.com, hoooka, ooVoo, Oyogi, Qoop. It was goofy, it was cool, but remembering and saying them were misery. The shortage of .com domains has led toward a further trend of such names as Bit.ly, Adf.ly, Del.icio.us, Last.fm, About.me, Blip.tv ... But for most of us non-geeks, there remains ONLY one domain - .com.
Rule 9: Identify keywords
Use Google AdWords to find the most popular terms related to your theme and.... do not use them. If you had to search the Internet for what is written about you, a generic name could give you a big problem finding yourself. It is important to know what and when something was said about you so you can respond. The search for hashtag #SUPERMARKET is going to result in thousands of links nowhere near related to you. In addition, do not be tempted by generic names like Orange or Apple. You neither have as much money available for marketing as they do, nor a world-unique product to fight the whole internet. We also live in different circumstances now. Apple fought against technical names and technical products with a human name and human design. They wanted to bring the computer to the people. If Apple had been called something like, Computronicsm, only geeks would have caught it. In terms of keywords, it helps for them to be based on real words, adding something funky to them.
Rule 10: Your name will no longer be just a logo and a domain
We live in a social age. Your name should be the same for your domain, Facebook, Twitter, Slideshare ... to call yourself something different can lead to chaos. Tricks with numbers, dashes, characters, etc. ... leave them for the girls in online chatting rooms like KLARIKA_94. How do we put these validated theories into practice? Our challenge is to create names that work as advertising. They are fascinating, they stick in your mind, they create a story, they promise. Why to have just a word when you can have a name that gives you a reputation.
BONUS from the man in a suit
Do not ignore possible trademark issues - you can never make a full profit off a name already registered as a trademark. And you probably don't want to find your new name is already someone else's. Depending on whether you are a start-up with national or transnational ambitions, verify your name is just your own by checking the Business and Trademark Registers in both Slovakia and abroad.
Mirka’s academic background is in cognitive science. She has published more than 60 articles in magazines, journals, book chapters and more. Mirka speaks at naming and branding at conferences and lectures at workshops aimed toward entrepreneurs and the start-up community.