9 Things To Consider When You Name A Startup

4848301878_6f678cd4d8_o.jpg

By Bernadette Jiwa (Brand Consultant, The Story of Telling) Everyone can agree that there’s nothing really objectionable about calling your business ‘Bargain World’. It’s an innocuous name and most people won’t hate it. That’s the problem. If you’re going to name your startup, product or service something that people won’t hate, then you’re giving yourself an identity that they will never be able to care about, either.

Bunkum! I hear your cry what about Apple and Amazon, aren’t they just unobjectionable words too? Back in 1976 when Apple was Apple Computer, tech startups and corporations were called IBM (what does that stand for?) and Microsoft.

I bet a few people were laughing behind their hands at the idea of branding an incorporated tech company with a stripey apple. When Jeff Bezos named Amazon after one of the biggest rivers in the world in 1994, other book stores were called Borders Books and Waldenbooks. It didn’t take people long to fall in love with Amazon, which of course aspired to be the biggest, fastest, get what you want bookstore, (that had room to grow not to be just a bookstore) in the world.

Your business or product name is the hook on which you hang your story and start the conversation with customers. It’s the mechanism you give people to identify you. And when you earn their trust and loyalty it’s the way they spread the news about you. Your brand and product names are some of the most priceless assets your business can own. They should make you stand out, not fit in.

If nobody can find an objection to the brand name you choose, then you’ve probably got the wrong name. Your name should polarize people, spark their interest, and make them want to get to know more about who you are and what you do.

Here’s a simple test. If you can’t imagine someone wanting to wear your name on a t-shirt one day, then it’s probably not the right name for you now.

Things To Consider Before Naming Your Brand

To communicate the value of something you’ve created you must first understand where the value in it lies. Here are some of the things you need to consider before you get to the fun of the naming part.

  1. Mission: What are you doing right now, today? What happens because you exist?
  2. Vision: What are or will be the results and effects of what you do in the future?
  3. Core Values: What are the attitudes and beliefs that shape your business culture?
  4. Unique Selling Point: What’s your edge, the thing that makes you stand out?
  5. Emotional Selling Point: What’s the intangible that you are you selling? Think feelings not facts, here, like connection, freedom, ego, or a sense of belonging.
  6. Brand Essence: This is the core of what you do, the image it portrays and the signals it sends.
  7. Tagline: One line or very short phrase that communicates everything.
  8. Identity: How the consumer perceives the brand.
  9. Name: The verbal hook on which all of the above hangs and is communicated, the icing on your cake. Comes in all the way down here at number nine!

Brand Naming Do's and Don'ts

Choose a name that is easy to pronounce and spell.

Make sure the name you choose is legal and not owned or trademarked by another company in the same business category. Check for both domain availability and availability of your name across all social networks. NameChk is a good comprehensive tool for this. Aim for .com availability, easier said than done. Consider natural extensions to your name. "Only Human," for example, can become onlyhumancommunications.com.

Look for a name that won’t box you in to one category, think big, and get creative. Test-drive the name by speaking it aloud. Act out answering the phone and introducing yourself at networking events with it. Announce it to a small focus group to check that it is not ambiguous on the ear.

Choose a name that tells a story and starts a conversation. Google is a great example of this. Don’t allow the naming process to stall your project. If you’re struggling, get professional help.

Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. Bernadette JiwaAbout the guest blogger: Bernadette Jiwa is a brand catalyst and verbal branding specialist based in Australia. She has helped successful startups from around the globe build the foundations of their products and business on a great brand name. She is the author of the book You are the Map Maker and the creator of The Idea Manifesto. Bernadette writes about brand storytelling and entrepreneurship at The Story of Telling. Follow her on Twitter at @bernadettejiwa.