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Monday, 16 March 2015 10:52

Naming Your Startup: Tips of the Trade

By - Michael Rader

Nothing can torpedo a startup faster than a poorly chosen name. Brandability is all about identity and recall. Consumers who don’t remember your name because it is confusing, awkward, long, or bland will not become customers. It is only by choosing a unique and memorable name that your business will be able to start building its brand and developing loyal customers. For some companies, their brand is the most valuable asset they have. Yes, it is that important. Fortunately, the naming process doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you stay mindful of a few essential tips.

Chose a Name that is Simple

As a general rule, brand names need to be simple. It needs to be said, however, that simple does not equal weak and unimaginative. Giving a name this designation simply means it is easy to pronounce and remember. Again, consumers that can’t remember your name will not become customers. It is therefore imperative to consider the memorability of your name.

“The most memorable names are ones that are purely unique, a new word that identifies your business.”

In general, shorter names are easier to recall, as are those that are catchy. Simple brand names also mimic natural language and are therefore easier to embrace. Names must have a normal rhythm to them, which makes them fun and easy to say. Consumers will quickly discard a business name they can’t pronounce or one that sounds too awkward.

Many of the world’s most famous brands are simple names. Consider businesses like Nike, Sony, Bic, or even 3M. These words were not household names until they were attached to a specific brand. The names are all catchy, easy to spell, pronounce, and remember. As a result, they are successful.

Create Active Verbs

Brand names that can serve as active verbs possess a sense of activity and movement. Names that can lend some relation to the purpose of your brand are especially successful. Consider what your brand will promise and how customers can access those benefits. What action is involved? What action pertains to your product itself? Finding a verb that encompasses either the activity of your customers or that of your product will increase the brandability of your name.

Some companies have managed to turn their brand name into a verb, a process called “verbifying.” Consider companies like Google and Skype. Not only are they business names, society has also turned them into verbs. Google is a popular search engine, but it is also an action. “I’ll google it” is a common phrase. It started out, however, as a creative and distinct business name. Google’s ability to infuse it into the public consciousness has made it a household term as both a noun and a verb.

Companies can attempt to verbify their brand name simply by adding an “-ing.” By using the resulting verb consistently across all marketing channels, the general public will begin to associate the word with the product. Think of this process the next time you are “Skypeing” someone or “Swiffering” your floor.

Strive for Distinctive and Creative

Above all, start-up businesses need to create an identity that allows them to stand apart from the competition. If consumers perceive nothing special about your company, they will instinctively return to a frequented, and therefore comfortable, establishment. Start-up businesses need to offer potential customers something fresh and new. This all starts with your name. You need a name that people want to be part of.

There are several ways to choose a name that is distinctive and creative. The first way is simply to choose a name that is indicative of what the brand does. 2000 Flushes is a bathroom cleaning product designed for toilets. Including the word “flush” in the name ensures that customers will make the intended connections. Another example is Glass Plus, a window and other glass cleaner. Once again, the “glass” in the name helps generate logical and memorable connections.

Another way to create a distinctive name is to use compound words that relate to what the brand promises to do. An example of this strategy would be the name Band-Aid. The word “aid” is associated with injury, which is precisely what Band-Aid is designed for.

A third strategy involves taking an existing name and changing the spelling. Misspelled words automatically catch a reader’s eye. It will then stick in their memory banks, creating the brand recognition and recall you are looking for. Cheez-It and Playskool are popular examples of this type of naming. Again, anything that makes your brand name stand out is going to increase your chance of successful branding.

Web-Friendly Names

It is virtually impossible in this day and age for companies to exist without embracing the Internet. It is therefore imperative to consider the web implications of your name.

The first thing to do is check if the URL that matches your brand name is available. Brands that have their own websites reinforce the brand’s identity. Search the internet to make sure the name you are considering is not already being used. If it is, you are better off choosing a different name. Consumers will search for a business by their brand name. The last thing you want is a competitor popping up in your place.

You can make sure your website is Search Engine Optimized (SEO) by strategically placing your brand name throughout the site. You want a simple internet search to lead to your business, not that of your competition. Because customers will search by your brand name, it is important to choose a name that is not commonly used for other things. For example, a basic search using the word “shoe” will bring up a plethora of business names that include the word shoe. It would be very difficult to differentiate a new company that also used that word. Zappos also comes up with searching “shoes.” They set themselves apart by choosing a truly unique and unrelated name for their business and Google has recognized this strong brand.

You should also check out social media sites to see if the name you are considering is available. Is there a Twitter handle already in existence or a Facebook page that would confuse your customers? Establishing an online presence is vital in today’s market, and that includes social media.

The Key to Success

The importance of choosing the right business name cannot be overstated. Businesses that choose flawed names are virtually doomed from the start, regardless of the quality of their goods and/or services. Fortunately, Brandroot has a myriad of names that fall into almost every industry category. You do not have to navigate the naming maze on your own. We are here to help.

Last modified on Monday, 30 November -0001 12:00

Michael Rader

With over ten years in web development and design, Michael Rader has expertise and technical know-how. But more than a skilled technician, he is an entrepreneur and innovator who helps startup’s and new businesses identify and define their future with a unique, brandable business name. Michael Rader is the founder and CEO of Brandroot®, a leading .com domain name marketplace. He currently lives in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii where he operates the business and authors a blog dedicated to naming and brand name establishment.