Amidst all of the responsibilities you have to juggle when building your business, naming your company can seem overwhelming. Think about it, whichever name you decide on will be the thing that you mention more often on a daily basis than any other word, so it deserves some care and attention. However, that does not mean you cannot have some fun and enjoy the process. Here is a short guide to get you started.
1.) Keep It Simple
Before you start thinking about all the clever ways you can dissect a word by removing consonants and vowels to make it look edgy, consider making sure it is clear and easy to share. Fight the urge to complicate things with ornate or cryptic spelling and aim for nine characters or less. Keep in mind that your name also serves as the foundation for your logo and other user interface elements. Consider how you would share the company name on social media, on a phone call, during a pitch, and even typing it on your phone. If it feels awkward, cumbersome, or confuses the people you are talking to about it, take a step back and keep iterating.
2.) Make It Memorable
By memorable, we mean memorable to other people and not just you and your team. Since the name of your company can feel like your baby, you will inherently feel connected, and that will not help you determine whether the name sticks with others. Do the hard work of engaging people directly through calls, email, social media, or networking events to see if they can recall your startup name by following up. Taking the time to validate this is crucial especially when it comes to search engines and how you show up online to people who will look you up.
3.) Confirm The Name is Available
Whether it is a .io, .com, or one of the slew of emerging domains you can choose from, make sure the domain is available for you to purchase. Additionally, do a deep dive for at least a few hours to make sure you do not run into any conflicts with companies that may already be using the name. No matter how tempting it is to move forward with a name even though someone else is actively using the .com, think long and hard whether you want to deal with the confusion that comes up in search results and also the restrictions you may encounter from a usage perspective. Visiting https://www.uspto.gov/ can help you determine whether you can get a trademark or service mark for your startup name.
4.) Ensure The Name is Repurposable
Depending on the vision of your company, you may end up in different verticals and markets than your original focus. For this reason, keep your name agile and flexible so that it does not limit what your company can do in the future. For example, TurboTax is a core product of the parent company Intuit; the parent company's name allows for it to pivot and expand its offerings without deviating from the core brand and confusing their existing or new customers. Don't rack your brain trying to come up with the next Apple or Google, just make sure the name can grow with you as your company evolves and matures.
5.) Choose a Timeless Name
This tip bookends the other tips we have covered so far to make sure you have thought through, validated, and carefully pondered all of your startup name choices. Through your research, you may see trends such as chopping up your startup name with slashes, dots, colons, removing letters, etc. It is tempting to follow suit, so you have something that seems unique, but keep in mind that if you see the trend all over the place, then the novelty is already on the way out. Growing a startup can be a long haul that could take several years so consider names that you and your team will be happy to wear on various versions of company swag, have on business cards, and say aloud thousands of times in meetings, networking events, and pitches to investors.
Special thanks to Dharmesh Shah for his piece on the S.M.A.R.T naming checklist.