Keep These 6 Tips in Mind When Choosing a Name for Your Startup

One of the most important steps in starting a new business is finding a name for it. While choosing a name may be fun compared to the other challenges you face as an entrepreneur, it is also an extremely important step that should not be taken lightly. Your name needs to reflect the product or service you offer while appealing to the audience you hope to attract. If the name is not indicative of the business, you may have trouble attracting customers. Think about the name in terms of your overall brand and ask yourself what you want to convey with it. Doing this will help guide you as you make your final choice. Some other tips to keep in mind when it comes to naming your business include:

1. Make sure the connotation is positive.

Words have a denotation, which is their literal meaning, as well as a connotation, which speaks to their emotional impact. Word connotations can be positive, neutral, or negative. While you should avoid words with a negative connotation for obvious reasons, even words that appear neutral are not a great choice for a business. This is because people will associate your business with the connotation of the name. You want people to have positive, rather than neutral, emotions when they think of your brand. A name with a positive connotation is easier to remember and helps build a brand with a strong impact.

2. Choose something easy to spell.

Another important rule for naming your business is making it easy to spell. People often talk about the businesses they frequent, which is great word-of-mouth marketing. However, you don’t want people misspelling your business’ name when they recommend your business or attempt to find it online. If a person cannot spell the business’ name, they may give up on the search and you may lose out on a sale.

If you have settled on a name for your business and the people you reveal it to frequently ask you how to spell it, that is a sign that you should consider something different. Stick with simple words that people around you will be familiar with, as that will be easiest to search for and remember.

3. Consider the long-term growth potential.

Ideally, your business will grow over time. Keep this in mind when you choose a name and avoid something overly specific. A great example of this is Amazon. If the company had been called something like BooksOnline, that would have spoken to the original mission of the company, but it would not allow it to grow into what it is now. The company would have had to rebrand as it expanded to new segments.

Rebranding involves a lot of time and money, so avoid it by initially choosing something broad. In general, it is a good idea to avoid names tied to a specific product or city unless you are absolutely sure you will not expand to other products or physical locations.

4. Convey meaning with your name.

The best startup names give some hint as to what the company does or reflect the brand in another way. Though companies with seemingly meaningless names like Yahoo and Google have gone on to find huge success, it is very difficult to capture this same success.

You should avoid naming your startup with something that has very little meaning, as it will be hard to connect the name to the brand. You can have a catchy name that still speaks to what your company does to some extent. Once you think of some options, ask the opinions of friends and advisors to see what they think a company with that name would do. If the name is catchy and points people in the direction of your brand, you have found a great option.

5. Keep the name relatively short.

Shorter names are easier to remember. If your name is long and complicated, people may not remember it correctly, which makes it difficult to find your business or recommend it to other people. Furthermore, a shorter name makes branding easier, especially when it comes to creating a logo. You will also likely want a webpage for your business at some point and having a short name is better for a domain. Studies have found that shorter domain names drive more traffic, likely because they are easier to remember when typing into a computer. If you feel like you need a longer name, be sure to figure out an acronym or alternative name that can be used for improved recognition.

6. Test out your final list of names.

Instead of deciding on one name, you should have a few in mind. Once you have the shortlist, you can talk to other people about their opinions and potentially even do some A/B testing to see what customers prefer. Importantly, do not forget to search for trademarks and other companies that may have the same, or even similar, name. If you find another organization with a similar name, it may be best to go with something else to avoid any confusion. Also, be sure to check out domain names to ensure you can get something that makes sense for the name you choose. Doing this research upfront will avoid some unfortunate surprises down the line, such as a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Robin Stoby has been affiliated with the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry Limited (GBTI) since 1991.