How to find the perfect name for your startup
A strong brand name is the cornerstone of any business. When launching a new startup, a strong name can help you attract and connect with customers. It can lead to buzz, increase recall, and encourage referrals, as a name that is hard to say, spell, or remember is also hard to share. A great startup name helps you across many key communication and marketing goals.
Moreover, a superior name serves as the foundation of your brand and can have exponential effects throughout the lifetime of your business. It’s clear that brand-aligned names like Accenture, PayPal, and MailChimp play important roles in each company’s overall success.
A startup name must align with the startup itself
Start by defining the essence of your particular startup. A name is an extension of your brand—and a brand starts with feelings and big ideas. Focus on thoughts like preeminent, fun, empowering, innovative. Think about it: a quirky and fun startup—think Bonanza—will require a very different name than an elegant and sophisticated startup such as Ruby Lane.
Determine a productive naming direction
At Squadhelp, we believe there are five styles of effective names, and each serves a unique purpose (however, there is some overlap):
- Classic – Perfect for anyone looking to establish a high-end startup or build a brand that feels timeless.
- Clever – Fun brand names can resonate deeply and pre-frame your fun user experience.
- Descriptive – Descriptive names explain your startup’s features or benefits, allowing you to begin explaining your features or benefits right in the startup name.
- Intrigue – This very popular naming style allows your startup to demand attention because of your name’s uniqueness and unexpectedness.
- Emotive – For the brands that are not afraid to lead with key emotions, emotive names resonate deeply and build instant connections with visitors.
Deciding which one or two directions work best for your startup will give you a sharp focus and help you develop a name that supports your success.
Choose your startup name with confidence
Now that you’ve set the foundation, recruit as many people as possible to help you brainstorm name ideas for your startup—members of your team, as well as trusted friends and family.
However, while teammates, employees, friends, and family members can help you brainstorm business name ideas, they are incapable of providing unbiased feedback. Many people become confused and frustrated when they ask their friends, family, and colleagues to help choose a name. Personal bias comes into play. If you test your names with those who came up with the ideas in the first place or those who know you well, bias skews results. Furthermore, contradicting opinions from people you respect can be very unsettling.
Surveying a representative audience when testing potential startup names allows you to receive unbiased insight. The key to testing your favorite names and choosing a great name with confidence is to develop very precise test requirements. Ask yourself “what do I want this name to do for my venture?” and then test these criteria. If you’re looking to create a fun and engaging lifestyle brand for teens, do not ask “which of these company name feels the most high-end?”.
One of our favorite survey questions is “Which of these XYZ companies (e.g. peer-to-peer surf board rental startups) are you most interesting in learning more about?”. This question allows you to test how a name will drive interest in your new startup, which is a very desirable characteristic.
In the end, the name that you choose for your startup will either help you succeed or hinder your progress. We hope that some of the advice that we’ve shared—which was learned by helping nearly 15,000 businesses develop strong names—will help you develop productive names and choose one with confidence.
When you brainstorm names collaboratively and intelligently with a specific end goal in mind, and then test your favorite name ideas with an unbiased group that represents your intended audience, you’ll be on the right path to a great brand and a successful startup.