Peoples’ physical appearances mirror their names. ‘We Look Like Our Names’ argued a research paper with the same title released by the American Psychological Association. It argued that societal perception of a person is also based on their name, and this perception shapes the individual’s character, with the person living up to the given name through their physical identity.
Now, extend that hypothesis to your start-up venture: how crucial is it to find the perfect name for your business? Of course, for a business to prosper, you need a lot more than just an ideal name, but an inappropriate moniker could and has, pushed businesses to obscurity and eventual failure.
There are several devices to create a name such as a startup name generator that etches your brand in public memory–common words, words coined especially for the business, trendy words, a clever misspell, a witty wordplay, initials, or abbreviations. However, what determines whether any of these work for you or not is a carefully designed marketing business plan to support the name.
The purpose of a name is for the public to recognize, remember, and be roused by your brand. Here are a few tenets to be kept in mind when considering a business brand name.
Alignment with a purpose — The name of your brand should be a reflection of either what you produce, a service that you provide, a problem that you intend to solve, or your unique-selling-point; essentially your purpose. The name could also be a word that describes the journey of your venture so far. The customer should be able to decipher what you are trying to sell or what to expect from your brand without having to solve riddles. ‘Qwikster’ was hardly the right fit for a DVD-by-mail service in today’s day and age. For instance, a boutique vegetable and eatery store should not be named such that it gives the impression of being a supermarket.
Common words but a unique idea — String together a set of common terms with a unique idea to catch attention. The words should not be too difficult to pronounce or understand. If a customer has difficulty pronouncing your name or even understanding it, it is unlikely that they would say it aloud and with that, you could bid goodbye to leverage ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising. ‘MUBI’, a global film curator and streaming service provider, was earlier named ‘The Auteurs‘. While the name suited the persona of the brand, it was too niche for visibility. Thus, the name was changed to MUBI, albeit a meaningless word but one that has a phonetic resemblance to Movie which has larger acceptability across cultures.
A misspelled name is a tricky tactic as well. While it worked for ‘Netflix’, you go overboard with it, and people may have trouble finding you on the internet even though they are nearly sure they overheard a reference to that very word at a bar the other day.
Sometimes, a quirky, clever wordplay may also garner the attention you want. Possibly coin a ‘morpheme’, a meaningful combination of word segments such as ‘Verizon’.
Accommodate growing ambitions– Descriptive names are a problem when they get very specific. For example, having the place of origin of a venture in its name may not be advisable because it may be an issue when the brand is trying to gain a foothold in a new region. That, unless the region is synonymous with the product, such as cotton from Manchester or Tea from India. Further, ‘Bakery’ instead of ‘That Bread Store’ leaves more room for the venture to explore a future beyond a specialty. The brand name should not inhibit further growth of the brand.
Not culturally offensive — This is key especially if you want to take your venture across borders and cultures to a larger clientele. The name or even the color of the font and logo you choose should not be offensive in other languages or cultures. There are software, like ‘Wordsafety’ and ‘TrademarkNow’, where you can run a test for a small price or even for free. ‘Pee Cola‘, which means ‘very good cola’ in Ghana is sure to be ridiculed if it were looking to expand into English-speaking parts of the world.
While it is important to be informed of naming strategies employed by competitors, you should refrain from adopting the template and create a name that would distinguish you from them.
Target group – Language and the message should be directed towards your target audience for effective communication. For this, you need to study your target clientele, be aware of their aspirations, and what appeals to them.
Social media campaign – Short words could be more effective for a social media campaign; for sure, you would want your social media handles and your domain name to be the same. Including commonly searched words on the internet into your brand name may also help with the introduction of new, prospective customers.
We have already established the significance of finding a befitting name for your venture. At this point, you may wonder whether outsourcing the process to branding experts is more efficient than doing it yourself. Understandable query; professional naming agencies are well versed not only with the nuances of the creative process but also the legal and trademark formalities crucial to securing your business brand. However, some founders/entrepreneurs may prefer a more hands-on or personal approach to deciding on a name. Further, for some small businesses, the sheer expense of hiring a professional team may be a deterrent. Here is a checklist of all the things that you need to do to finalize the perfect name for your business to leverage on, and ensure that you can keep it:
Name Generation and Finding Out Availability
Once you have decided on the purpose of your venture, start collecting keywords that define your venture; keywords generate ideas. Use business name generators available online to create using the keywords as parameters. These programs throw up a whole range of prospective names in reference to your keywords, or say, a union of two words that could mean something for your business. Brandelance, NameMesh, BrandBucket, BrandRoot can all help you with the creative process.
Try to picture the name in a logo or artwork, say it aloud, to understand if it suits the persona of your brand and your chosen medium of advertising.
With a bunch of options at hand for names, start filtering your choices by checking on names that have not already been registered for a product of the same grade and category. You may be allowed to use a name in case the product it is being used for already is in a different line of
Purchase Domain, Register Trademark, Legalities
Next, search the web through multiple search engines to check if a brand is already using the domain name. To be thorough, check with domain name registrars as well. The preference should be to find a name where you can add a new domain extension for example, .TECH, .STORE, .ONLINE, .SITE, .etc..
Purchase the available domain name immediately whether or not you are creating the website right away. Following this, register on all social media outlets with the same name.
Register the trademark for the company name next, by filling out an online application form with your county or state office. You may want to consult a lawyer to ensure the legalities are watertight. The last thing you want is to be booked for trademark infringement.
Therefore, conduct another round of thorough searches to ascertain that the name is not already in use. This also matters in order to grow larger as an entity. When you venture into markets in different geographies, you are more likely to come across small businesses with the same name. You would want to avoid a change in brand name at that point.
You need a DBA (doing business as) certificate for which you pass on the details to your bank where a new account could be started.
Test the waters
Finally, before you launch, you need to test the name. Share it with friends and get honest feedback. Better still, try it on strangers, see how focus groups perceive them. You could conduct surveys through various online platforms.
While getting a name absolutely right is important, don’t be under pressure to find the perfect fit in the first go. Test your name by sending it out there into the world to identify you. Don’t be resistant to alternative names in case the marketing strategy behind the first one fails.