A startup is all about the idea. Among other things, it is primarily the idea that will determine whether a startup will be successful or not. The idea should be unique and it should be something that no other company has thought of.
But what happens if the idea is not unique? What if there are other companies that have come up with a similar idea?
The answer is a powerful brand name. A startup must have a good brand name. A brand name is crucial because it is what differentiates your startup from the others. It is what creates a unique identity for your startup in the market. The more unique the brand name is the better.
Below are some of our favorite thought-provoking ideas to help you create your brand name.
Consider a Name NOT Related to Your Business
Here’s food for thought. People tend to relate brand names to what said business does. Think of it as an empty hanger that will gradually get heavy with what people THINK you do. The problem – there’s only so much hanger space available.
For instance, if you were to name your new online flower shop business Pot-A-Flowers – your hanger is quite small. You’re limited to attributes related to flowers and pots. The wiggle room is not very big (which may not be a bad thing!).
However, if you were to name your company Petali, the possibilities have all of a sudden increased exponentially. You get to choose what to hang on your hanger, and more importantly – how many hangers there are. You are no longer tied to the straight and narrow name depicting exactly what you do and you can freely expand your business as you like.
A Name Should Suggest and Remind Users of What You Do
That’s right, we’re going to contradict ourselves and play devil’s advocate.
A powerful brand name should evoke feelings of what you do for new users, and remind repeat ones of their fantastic experience with your business.
You might not get that with a company called Petali (or then again you just might).
However, you still need to stand out, and your name should have a bang to it that other competitors in your space haven’t already capitlized on. You don’t want to be Pot-A-Flowers, when the competition is called Fred’s Flower Pots, Potter Flowers, and Pots & Flowers. Your name will likely not be very memorable.
Consider a name that evokes powerful emotions and relates to what you do, without getting too literal. The more wiggle room you have (queue point number one), while still keeping your name relevant, the easier it will be for your customers to remember it.
Pick a Name That is Easy to Say, and Spell
Avoid complex, long names in foreign languages. Your audience will not know how to spell them, say them or remember them.
If you’re in the English-language market, pick English words (or a string of them), and make sure they are both easy to spell AND pronounce.
However, don’t get hung up on creating a short name either. If it’s memorable, then nobody will mind a few extra characters. This also applies to domain names, where you can add filler words if your primary choice of domain is already taken.
* This problem goes out the window if you choose an abstract name that nobody has ever heard of (but is still easy to say and pronounce).
Other Thoughts on Brand Names
A brand name is the one piece of identity that is more permanent than a logo, and more fundamental and symbolic than any piece of PR or marketing.
While you can change your colors, your tone, and your logo – you will not change your company name every few months. So pick a name that is authentic, original and powerful.
As you’ve noticed above, there is no right answer to picking a brand name. There is no formula, and you will get conflicting advice from everyone. Which brings us to our last point – not everyone will like your name. And that is okay, they’ll regret it later. Just ask Uber.
How to Choose a Brand Name
This is the hard part. By now, you should have your brand pillars including your mission, vision, values and keywords. These are your primary weapons as anything you create must adhere to all of these.
For us, we like to break down the process into the following steps:
1. What ideas and messages do you want your name to convey?
2. What visual concepts do you want your name to suggest?
3. What are other ventures in your field called?
4. How do you differ? How can you differ?
5. Brainstorming, brainstorming, brainstorming…
○ Review this reading
○ Conduct a Brand Name Workshop
○ Finalize the Company Name
○ Start designing your brand