Naming your Startup

This post is an extrapolation of a question we answered via Quora’s excellent Social Platform built around answering questions, with social-enabled components. The original question was “What Should One Consider While Naming a Startup?”  Our recommendations:

1) Be Memorable  - is Google, Yahoo or Apple memorable? Depends on your assessments of these established brands. Apple is a generic term that Apple Corporation rebranded (the Beatles had a similar take) as its very own.

Google and Yahoo reflect an original name that meant nothing to the target markets they were addressing when launched. But these nonsensical names eventually morphed into iconic brand names over time, driven by market defining positioning.

2) Domain is Available (.com) - forget hyphens, .net or other secondary Top Level Domains is the address to have. If worried about others hijacking your brand then register other secondary TLDs and even for key international markets. Also, SEO tip register the domain 3-5 years out, which sends a signal to top tier Search Engines that this domain is high quality.

3) Good name conveys what you do - provides others with a good sense of your market focus, products and/or services.  Or not, Google, Yahoo, Gowalla all went for odd names that are nonsensical to most just to stand out from the crowd.

4) Can be easily pronounced (telephone test) - if your startup team can’t pronounce this easily and friends, investors, BOD members, significant others stumble pronouncing this, then start over with a fresh slate.

5) No Confusion with Competitors - you don’t want to deal with competing with another company in or out of your market with a similar name. Show stopper, you’ll waste valuable time, market resources and or paying legal fees.

6) Shorter is better - two syllables if possible  - but not always, if a longer name describes your business then you may want to go with the latter.

7) Works for Global Markets - don’t make the mistake many US companies have made in the past; think about international markets and test the name for localization. We live/work in a global world and traditional marketing barriers have evaporated.

8) Integrates with Tagline - if you have a tagline ready to go along with the name then look at the graphical layout and word play.

9) Easy to Remember - similar to the telephone test. If the name rolls off your tongue and more importantly, others, then you are read for prime time.

10) Twitter Name Available - this is an absolute in today’s world and if someone has hijacked this Twitter name then either buy it from them or start over.

11) Secondary Branding - okay you’ve named the company, now what are your products and services named or branded? Think about how to extend your company’s brand name to encompass your products and services.

If you follow these basic marketing maxims for naming your company you should end up with a name that resonates with your market, is catchy, cool, resonates with others, etc. To connect with us via Twitter - click here to drop into our digital stream.

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