Naming a baby is an overwhelming responsibility. You consult books, websites and Top 100 Name lists. You think about the pronunciation, language, culture, and your current living situation to pick a beautiful and timeless name. You add a middle name so if you picked really wrong, your child can choose to use this one instead. And if your child really hates it, it can always change it later.
Naming your startup however is a different animal. It needs to reflect your brand identity, be timeless, not trademarked and so much more. To make it a little easier here are 15 tips to consider before you pick a name for your new company:
1) Decide on a name style. Are you a tech start up and you market mainly to the young crowd? Then you can get away with making up a name like . If your buyer persona is more traditional, you might want to opt for “real words” and choose a more descriptive name like for example Lenda (start up that offers online home loan refinancing). Here are some options:
2) Consider your buyer persona. Sorry, as an Inbound Marketer, I need to start with this one. Who is your ideal customer? Are they mainly on their phone while surfing the internet? Do they search for your company or type the URL directly in? Are they mainly English speaking or do you need to consider a different language?
- Compound Words like DropBox, ShipStation
- Create a portmanteau: Join two words that share a sound or letter such as Pinterest or Mixel.
- Misspellings or adding letters: Fivrr, Etsy, Yext.
- Add prefixes and suffixes: Shopify
- Add numbers
3) Include a keyword if possible. This can be extremely difficult. The keyword has to translate into what you do, but not restrict you with what you might be doing in the future (a mistake I regret by naming my company Organic SEO Press). Depending which route you pick with the style of your name, you might not be able to include a short keyword at all. But if you are able to include a keyword, it will reap you SEO benefits for years to come and your visitors get a first idea of what to expect.
4) Don’t add punctuation. It’s hard to say, people won’t remember it and you cannot include it in your URL. Take a leaf out of Yahoo!’s book and forget about that idea.
5) Keep it short & easy to remember. There are many reasons why keeping your name short is important: tit is easier to remember, it will look better in logos, it is easier to type. However, this can be difficult as a lot of dot.com domains are already registered so you might have to become creative.
6) Check if it is legal. This should be obvious but is often overlooked. Go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and search for possible names.
7) Make sure you can register or get the .com. This is a non-negotiable unless you opt for the more modern alternative top level domains (see #8). Do not include hyphens to get the name you want as it is hard to enter on a mobile device and hard to spell out.
8) Consider clever Top-Level Domain alternatives. If you are marketing to a younger audience (and exclusively online), including the top level domain extension such as .to or .me can me a great name. For examples: Scoop.It, youcanbook.me or assistent.to.
9) Google it. What comes up when you search for your name? I considered to name my company OutGro but after a Google Search I came across a Foot creme to relieve pain. Event through the two are not connected, I don’t want people to say “You know OutGro like the foot cream!”
10) Make sure the Twitter handle is available. Another must have. Twitter has become an invaluable tool for marketers and the Twitter handle needs to be up for grabs.
12) Check if the Facebook page is available. If you are marketing to consumers or buyer personas, make sure that the Facebook page is available.
13) Speak it out loud. If you are asked who you work for, how would it sound? Could you say it over the phone and the person on the other end would be able to type it into Google or know how to spell it? Use it in conversations for a couple of days.
14) Test it on a real audience. This is where a lot of entrepreneurs go wrong. They ask theri family and friends, people on Facebook and their mail man if they like the potential business name. Most likely you will get a lot of “Yeah, it’s cool!” and maybe a few constructive comments. This is very nice, but you need to properly test it on your buyer personas. Run A/B split tests with landing pages (you can use Unbounce or LeadPages) and ask people to give their email address if they are interested to get notified once you launch. Do not promise anything you cannot keep! For a more traditional group, you might even consider testing it in a focus group.
15) Make it timeless. Last but not least: go for timeless instead of trendy. You are in this for the long haul, right?