There a numerous challenges a startup faces in setting up and getting the cart rolling, especially when it comes to choosing what should serve as a world class business name. To most people though, getting funds is the greatest challenge. But it shouldn’t be so, because there are now so many other means you can raise funds for your start-up without taking a short term business loan.
Apart from funds, one other major challenge that comes up during the initial startup period is choosing a name. Getting a world class business name that suits your business, reflects your business and also appeals to people is not an easy task, especially with the advent of the internet.
And getting a domain name is no less a major challenge either.
A name is your first marketing strategy, don’t mess it up!
I once lived in a city in West Africa where a big fast food restaurant was sited. I ate at that fast food and wondered why it was always empty. It turned out that the name scared people away…they said it sounded diabolical and I could relate.
Take a look at the one below.
Or what about this one?
Please don’t be like that!
There are a plethora of rules that tell you how to find great names, but following rules may not be ideal… I mean, I will share some principles, but the truth is that a name must come from your clearest vision and picture of that business. That name must capture that very personal picture and still be appealing.
Someone once wanted to start a design label and he suggested a name; “SAD”. I was obviously shocked but still managed to ask him why he even thought of such a name. He said it was an acronym for “simple and amiable designs”…needless to say that was just sad.
I will share a few fool proof tips that if thrown in the broth will give you one heck of a name; usually one of them would do the trick
- Your Name Should Be Simple, Really Simple
I know there are a few exceptions like; “Mitsubishi” and “Wells Fargo” and “Huawei” that are not quite that simple, but have grown into quite popular brands.
However, if you want to have a world class business name, it has to be appealing. And for it to be appealing, it has to be simple. People like simple. Otherwise, it’s tougher to pull off.
Also, it’s preferable to make it a two syllable word or at most three. There is a reason Apple is the world’s most valuable brand.
Simple, means that it is easy to remember and easy to pronounce.
Samsung, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, GE, AT&T, Amazon, Walmart, IBM, Toyota, and Coca Cola join Apple in the Top ten most valuable brand list. They each have what we will now call a world class business name, and they all have the same common thread running through them; Simplicity.
- Your Brand Name Should Be Memorable and Mind Sticking
There are a number of ways you can do this. One of them is using a Logo that goes with your name.
Apple’s Logo of a half-eaten apple dredges up memories of the “forbidden fruit” that Adam and Eve ate in Eden and thus paints a picture of being irresistible…it worked just fine! You could use a name that draws up great images and memories or a logo that does.
Actually having a very powerful message-conveying Logo can help you get a world class business name.
Rather than use “Bright Lights” for a chandelier and light manufacturing business, try “BEAMBox”. It should work better!
Another thing you should do is to make sure your name is Dashing, Direct or even Outrageous Sometimes.
The Hundreds (another amazing name by the way) caught up with Ruslan Karablin, the Founder of SSUR, one of the most popular names in Streetwear. In a 2012 interview to help figure out how the outrageous and yet successful name came about. He had this to say;
“SSUR started from me signing my canvasses in art with my name in reverse in mirror form (RUSS). I don’t know where that came from. Maybe I hit my head or something, who knows? Then I started making some baseball hats and jackets just to promote the name for the art world, really. It evolved into t-shirts, and a brand of course with iconic graphics.”
Crazy, right? Well that is probably why it worked so well. Crazy always sells!
- You Could Try a Real Word
Why not use an actual word that describes your business or at least a major aspect of it, like “Entrepreneur.com”. Is there anything more world class than that?
It could also be a slightly modified word like “Citi bank” instead of “City bank”…. “flickr” instead of “flicker”, or names like “linkedIn”
The word doesn’t even need to describe your business at least not to the common man. A simple word Like “Square” has grown into a major brand name, just because it is simple, clear and unforgettable.
If you are excited about a word you want to use and find that it is already taken and much less in the same industry, try translating it into another language. For instance “Lux Citi Ventures” instead of “Light City Ventures” (all Chandelier and light startup manufacturers may need to pay me if these names are free).
The good thing about translations especially if they turn out to be simple two-or-three-syllable words, is that once the real meaning is learnt… the name is never forgotten.
- Try making Your Name Descriptive
This is another approach you should take to get a world class business name that rocks. Sit down and decide what you want the name to represent in the mind of your customers. What quality of your business does the name project?
For instance Amazon was started with the vision that customers will find A-Z of every type of book. Amazon as a word describes pinnacle, and “Bingo” a very powerful business name was born.
Quick, High Quality, Convenient, Inexpensive, Guaranteed, Recommended, Honest, Dangerous, Fun, Reliable… whatever the quality a name can capture it. You could also try translating the quality (that is the word itself) into another language or just using Synonyms.
Fidelity bank paints a picture of reliability, Peak Milk paints a picture of the highest quality, Fivr paints a picture of being inexpensive, the word “Dior” refers to a beautiful blossoming flower or a flawless young girl that carries herself well (this is why it works so well as a fashion brand). This way your business comes to mind whenever a customer thinks of that quality.
When I chose the name My Startup CEO, I had something in mind. From the about us page, you will see that I wanted to build a website for winning CEOs where I will provide advice and kick-ass motivation to build successful businesses. MSC may be young, but it has a strong brand, and a world class business name too, so you’d better watch out. Lol
5. You Could Use your Name
If you are looking to leave an immediately obvious legacy then you might consider exploring this option. However, I must warn that while it has its advantages and rocks if pulled off, it can also be quite tricky and demanding.
Such names tie the business to the person and thus often what happens to the person easily affects his brand.
Personal names however, make the business relatable. People tend to feel they are doing business with a person not brick and mortar.
There have been quite a number of successful brands that have worked with this approach. Adidas was named after Adi Dassler who founded the company. We also have brands like JP Morgan Chase, Dolce and Gabbana (named after Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana), Armani (named after Georgio Armani) or Ferrari (Enzo Ferrari) and thousands more.
If you are one of those people whose name troubled the teacher in High school, then you might want to take a different approach. A little variation to the name can still leave your print on it while making it pronounceable at least. Try initials or take the first syllable of two of your names and put them together. For instance the Brand name; Jo-Han is a variation of JOhn HANley.
A Little Advice to Go
These five points are loaded and fool proof. However, there are a few things that affect most startups and are worth at least a mention.
Type in your chosen name on Google and do a Name search
The Law isn’t friendly when you are on its wrong side. There are few things as frustrating in business as building a business into a major force and being sued for passing off by a minor company to the tune of thousands of dollars.
It is advisable to register your name at inception to protect it and to do this you must do a search to show its availability.
- Don’t Bother Too Much About the Domain Name
Too many Startups limit themselves by domain names. The truth is that in the long run, domain names don’t matter nearly as much as we make them seem. It is advisable to simply get a great name and if need be tweak your domain name if the domain name parallel isn’t free. You can buy when you are more successful.
Names are underrated, but domains names are (increasingly) overrated. Square and Dropbox, all started with temp domains. — Chris Dixon (@cdixon) July 13, 2012
I might add that Facebook started with “myfacebook.com”, Instagram was instagr.am and Twitter was twttr.com.
So if you are a startup reading this, I believe you are revved up. Now, let’s go conquer the world!