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
Crazy 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.
A. Focus on the Product First
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!
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.
A. What Do You Do?
Find 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.
A. Get the .com Domain
In 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
A. Pick Something Versatile and Memorable
Choosing 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.