What is a Startup?
A startup is an entrepreneurial venture which is a newly emerged, quick growing business in which its aim is to meet a marketplace need by developing a viable business model around products, services, processes or a platform.
It is developed to effectively develop and validate a scalable business model. After a new idea is conceived, the next big thing is to find a name for it.
If you have ever named a company before, you will know well that this task is time-consuming and frustrating. Yet, a strong name is important as a larger percentage of consumers make purchases based on a brand name.
For the past 22 years, I have come across several companies and talked with thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners.
We all shared a common trait; struggled to come up with a great name for our new company. Several hours was spent in the year 2007 when we came up with one.
Many entrepreneurs easily spend more searching for a perfect name only to hit the wall.
Even when they finally come up with one, they still need to tie it to a domain name.
Naming a startup is quite hard; not easy to get a catchy one.
However, in naming one, below are Ten (10) useful tips to have at heart while deliberating on a name to be used.
- What is your Name to communicate: The Company’s name is an important part of your brand and identity. It should identify your company and its products and/or services. The name will appear on letterheads, business cards and more – even on your website. A business that tends to offer services should do well to consider whether it will be easy for their prospective customers to recognize what services they provide. The name for your business should inherently point to the services you will be offering at your company. Even if all that you do for the moment is freelancing and yet to have your personal company, you should consider creating a brand around your work.
- Think well to identify possible names: As soon as you get and understand what you want company to communicate, kindly set out some time to brainstorm. Words to be considered are what pertain to your industry, products or services, what describes your competitors in your field and the highlights of your products. Here is a tip; you could look up the Greek and Latin translation of your words, as well as some other foreign words (Swahili does give a great choice too). However, be mindful of the fact that this exercise takes a good time; hours to brainstorm and then some time (day or two) to finalize names.
- Keep the name simple, short and easy to remember: There are several companies in which you know and admire so well that have short, simple and easy to recollect. Examples are Nokia, Samsung, KFC, Apple, LG etc. Naming a startup has been a problem for some small businesses as one of the advantageous forms of marketing is word-of –mouth. If prospective customers can’t easily remember, spell or properly pronounce it for others, it makes it difficult for them to promote your business.
- Try avoiding names that are too literal: Do well to think on how your business can evolve over time and do make sure that the name is able to transit with your company. For example, if your company name is “Samsung Accessories” and expands later to sell accessories for other products, you original name would be restrictive and too narrow. Even for those who sell niche products, the same rule applies. Something like, Antique Tables could change to Antique furniture. If you have anything like “Sean’s Antique Tables”, it might be too limiting if you moved into lamps or clocks as this is so relevant when choosing a domain name. Domain names play an important role in search engine optimization (SEO) and if a name that’s too narrow is picked, you will negatively impact your SEO strategy.
- Test your name with others other than your committee members: Involving friends, family members and even employees when in search for the name of your company could be as tempting as these ones are close to you. This measure works sometimes but there are risks. You should be careful while doing this as we all are unique and naturally like different things; they might be upset if you don’t pick a name they feel is great. However, if you must involve them, try selecting a few who understands the scope of the business. Do well to ask them not; which they like best but why some names are preferable over others. Once this is done, share them with some trusted friends and customers to get some feedback.
- Shun plain words: Plain words tend to be difficult when differentiating a company from its competitors. When it was time to name our brand, there were many businesses in the market that does the same thing. We desired that our name grows as the product expanded and didn’t want to go with names that would have been descriptive, but not memorable and certainly not unique. Examples are Web Designers or Unique Designs, DigiWEB would have been great. Although there are exceptions like General Electric whose name is plain and is one of the most successful companies in the world. However, they were one of the first companies in its service category, and they were able to get away with it spending huge on its marketing and advertising.
- Be careful with geographic names: Some startups use their city or state as a part of their company name. Names including your geographic area could hinder you later if you plan to expand your business beyond your city or state. But would do well if reach is only within where you are or the name you desire to use. A good example is Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining. This name worked so well because the business was focused on Minnesota but as soon as it grew beyond their industry and Minnesota, they had to find a new name – 3M.
- Dodge obscure words: For obscure words to thrive, they need a huge marketing budget and tremendous effort. Company names that tell stories can be powerful and memorable – Google as an example. But obscure words can be difficult to pronounce or spell, they work some times. Another great example is Xerox. Think well while choosing which to use if you can’t fund it to a level of it been known.
- Elude Trends: It is cool for company’s name to evolve as trends evolve also but you must be calm to identify trends and also to avoid following them. In the 90s, it was trendy to use a “.com” after your company name if it was an internet business. Later, when the internet bubble burst came on, the “.com” became synonymous with having no business model, and surviving companies had to drop the “.com” from their names.
- Consider your competition and whether you can register a domain: do well to check your competitors’ names before taking a final decision. Identical names in different industries will result in confusion for your customers and vendors if you don’t take time to decide. If the name you opt for is same as that of your competitors, you will be exposed to possible litigation and might be unable to obtain trademark protection for your company name. The good news is that there more extensions to choose from while “.com” has become so popular but they have become less important for SEO purposes. There are now many great alternatives to extend your brand. However, while purchasing a domain, it’s important to consider the different variations of the domain and even the extension to be so sure that a competitor can’t directly copy your company; laying confusion on your customers.
In conclusion, the above listed tips have been prepared to help find a suitable name and of course an online presence in the industry. If these tips are well absorbed, you will be sure to find yourself a great company name.