It’s exciting when you get an idea for a startup business.
Maybe it came as an idea. Maybe it’s an even better situation and you see a need and create a solution. Maybe it’s even better and you already have a few customers.
Whatever the case, one of the most important steps that comes next is naming your startup. It can be a frustrating experience even for those that have started companies previously.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years from my own experiences, but also from experts and other entrepreneurs for naming businesses.
The Brand Becomes What You Make It
Several years ago I worked for a catalog company. The company had launched several different catalog brands over the years. They had sometimes struggled with brand names. One time I guess they hired a consultant. The consultant came back with a name. It was horrible. Then the company just used a variation of a name of an employee and it worked out great.
On another project I was involved a little bit and a consultant we had for the operation side was sitting in on a meeting and he said something like:
It doesn’t really matter what the name is. I’ve been part of dozens of these over the years. The best option is to just pick one because the brand will come to stand for whatever you make it.
And that makes sense. “Google” didn’t really mean anything at the beginning, but now we all have an image of what it means. But the name didn’t do that. Google’s actions have. The same with Apple or whatever brand you’re thinking about.
So the first lesson is to try to not overthinking the name. It will become known for what you make it.
The other thing that consultant said was…
Don’t Offend Anybody
It seems obvious, but it’s worth noting in your pursuit. When you have a name take a little time to run it by different people. Genders, races, ages, etc. See if it upsets anyone.
Just ask them, “What do you think of this brand name?”
If they don’t seem offending then you’ve passed an important step.
Your Name Or Not Your Name?
Sometimes a person’s name works out well. It did for that catalog brand. They changed the first initial and just used that. Then used the last name, which was a fairly common name.
This has worked well over the years for retail brands. It can work just as well for any business really. Even tech businesses, software businesses, apps, etc.
The question is, will you be okay if the brand takes over your name? Is your family okay if your brand takes over their family name?
Easy To Type, Say, etc.
I think this is a big one. It’s not easy to find a name that’s easy to spell, say, type, etc. But that should be a goal for a business name.
I run into issues sometimes with Ghost Blog Writers. People leave off the “s” in Writers. Some people call it Ghost Bloggers. I get all those mistakes.
The other tricky part is that many of the easy words and phrases are already taken. But it might be easy enough to just pick a letter and open the dictionary.
Another key element is finding a name that is available. You could start with Google, but it might be better to start on a site like GoDaddy where you can search for available URLs. Odds are pretty good that if the URL is available that the name and trademark are available as well. But definitely google the name you have in mind. You never know if it belongs to a serial killer or anything like that.
Too Narrowly Focused
On a final note, watch for issues with narrowing your focus. I’m comfortable with Ghost Blog Writers being a blogging company for the long-term future. But that was a risky decision looking back on things.
It can be easy to be one thing today and to be another thing later. I live in Wisconsin and several years ago an airline was called Midwest Express. Well later they didn’t want to be associated as just an “express” airline, which usually meant short routes. So they removed the “Express”.
Even the regional name could have been tricky, but in the airline industry it’s pretty common for regional names to fly outside their regions.
But simple and seemingly meaningless names like Delta and United don’t have those same limits.
It’s not easy to come up with a good name for a startup, but don’t overthink it too much. You’ll probably get into more trouble trying to come up with something clever than by just picking something that means nothing and offends nobody.
The big takeaway is that your brand will come to represent what your actions make it.