Naming a company is one of those things that everyone thinks should be easy, until they try to do it. A new name for a business carries a lot of weight. And typically, it’s an early decision that has to approved by all the stakeholders. Right out of the gate, that makes it tougher. Here are the guidelines we recommend:
ONE: Decide on a reasonable budget. We suggest $5K as a starting point for a B2B startup. There are naming firms that charge anywhere from $10K – $50K for a name, but we believe that level of funding can be put to better use for your new website.
TWO: Naming is part of marketing. So get at least one or two experienced marketing people involved early on. Hire a resource that’s worked with numerous startups – and with a portfolio of work that you like.
THREE: Research and strategy come first. Talk to your early evangelists and find out precisely why they prefer your business model. Determine what makes your brand-to-be different. That’s paramount.
FOUR: Your name should impart some idea about what it is that you do, and if possible, what makes you different. Yes, there are lots of brand names that don’t do this. But the ones you remember spend millions of dollars in advertising each year, so in effect it doesn’t matter for them. All marketing is a series of steps that begins with brand awareness. Why not make the first step for your potential customer as easy as possible with a name that at least infers what it is you do? The vast majority of startups don’t have huge ad budgets to build awareness about what it is they do.
FIVE: Check to be sure the name isn’t in use or trademarked.
SIX: Dotcom availability isn’t nearly as important as it used to be. If you think about it, when was the last time you typed a company name with .com at the end into Google search? Today, there is very little downside if your URL ends in .biz, .net, .us, .pro or other extensions. People search for the name, not the extension. In addition, virtually all of the best names have already been registered as .com, and your identity is far more important than what comes after it.
One example: We use startupmarketing.us because it was far more important to communicate those precise words than to find something with .com availability.
SEVEN: Shorter is better than longer. Unless the short name has no meaning.
EIGHT: It’s ok to change a letter of a common word, if the pronunciation remains the same.
NINE: It should be easy to pronounce, and easy to remember.
TEN: Consensus is tough. Rarely do we recommend a new name for a company that everyone on the client side loves. If you want to test the name, the best resource is your current (or potential) customers.