How to name my startup

As the famous Shakespeare quote goes, “what’s in a name”. But alas when it comes to marketing, branding and building a business the name holds a lot of value. 

Finding a name for your startup is one of the hardest things you can do. Here are some actionable tips on how to come up with a name for your startup.

Brand names usually come from one of the following:

  • A made up word e.g. Kodak
  • A misspelling of one or two words together e.g. Flickr
  • Foreign words e.g. Volkswagen
  • Something meaningful but tangential to the business e.g. Canva
  • A last name or two strewn together e.g. Chanel

Here are some actionable tips to come up with a name.

  1. Create a buzz: What are some buzz words that represent your business? Think of how it extends to your core mission and vision.
    E.g. Dribbble, a social media and create excellence platform for designers. They use a basketball and cursive b’s in their name to represent their brand, as they have created a collaborative platform for designers and promote healthy competition between designers.

  2. Make it ‘brandable’: Short, easy to say, inspires action, easy to remember, easy to spell and representative of your business.
    E.g. Instagram, which conveys that by using their platform people can instantly document or “gram” their life.

  3. Check availability: Is the domain available and are the social accounts available? Use a tool like namechck to check availability across domains and channels.
    Tip: Avoid non .com domains. If nothing is available then the most trusted domains are .co and .net

  4. Check for alternate meanings: Do a Google Search to check whether the name has any alternate meanings and to see what ranks for term.

  5. Check trademarks: Check trademark sites in your country and globally to ensure there are no trademark infringements.

  6. Name + Tagline + Product: Once you’ve found a name think of how you tie it in with your logo, tagline and product.  E.g. The famous Nike tick which makes each of their products immediately recognisable and their inspirational tagline ‘Just Do It’ which underpins all their brand campaigns. 

While there is a lot of talk about SEO and domain names, the biggest success comes with how ‘brandable’ you make it. Remember when you start, you are your business, it is usually a reflection of your personal beliefs and values. Own it!