Don’t skip these steps when naming your product or company
There’s a lot to a name. Coca-Cola wouldn’t be the same with another name (the origin of the name comes from the Coca leafs and Kola nuts that are hardly detectable parts of the product). Instagram sounds like something that has always existed and you can almost guess what it is just from the name.
When starting a company or creating your product you don’t have to have a great name but it can sure help out a lot.
It’s easy to get anxious to get started with your dream project and just quickly pick a name and get on with it. Don’t. Take some time to pick a great name and you will save a lot of potential headache later on.
Here are some things to think about when naming your brand or new app:
Ask yourself these questions first
Should your product name be long or short? Short names like Google are easy to use but can be hard to find an available domain name for. Long names are easier to make original and can convey more of the idea of the brand or product. Like Bank of America.
“When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable”Meg Whitman
What is your product or brand long term goal or vision? Make sure the name aligns with that. Your original product might not be what you end up with later so it can be good to pick a name that is more about the vision than the exact product you start out with.
Who are you targeting, speaking to? Is it a broad consumer product or a niche B2B product? Is it for cost conscious customers or those that are looking for extra everything no matter the price? Will you go global or hyper local? Make the name align with your main audience.
Who is your competition? Make sure you stand out from the crowd… or if that is your strategy, fit in really well like you always was there.
Do you have a brand or product story? You can use that in the name, even if your story is kind of made up it can be a good way of tying your brand together. Pick a story and name that pairs. Tesla is all about the electrification of humanity which goes really well with the history of Nikola Tesla even if the company wasn’t started by him.
What is your main sales channel? Most products and brands need a website so it probably is important to be able to get the domain name for a reasonable price. But if your product is only available on the shelves of a physical store or through an app you might be able to think more freely as the domain name isn’t as important.
Make it memorable or be prepared to take over the world
There are two paths to a great name. Either you make it unique and memorable or pick a name that defines a whole category.
I think The Boring Company is a very unique and memorable name as it has a fun double connotation and uses a word most people would never ever choose for their brand new company that they will pour their soul into.
At the opposite end is a name like Slack, Stripe or Square. One word names that aren’t so descriptive and quite uninspiring but screams of world domination confidence.
Make it pronounceable and easy to spell – do the phone sales test
If you can’t pronounce the name yourself you need to start over right away. It’s easy to make a list of names by yourself and forget to check how the names sound.
A good test is to call someone and tell them your name and ask them to write it down. If they can understand it and also spell i correctly you have avoided a lot of headaches in the future.
Don’t just check the domain name – Google the name and check for trademarks
You might be very happy to find that your domain is available. But don’t stop there. Google your name and similar names to see if there is someone actively using your name in some way.
You should also do some basic trademark searches to see who else is using your name or part of your name in the same category. You’re rarely the only one but if you are you know you are on the right track.
It can also be a good idea to do some searches on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin to see what pops up.
Don’t make a fool of yourself and check with the kids
Sometimes you find a name and it’s perfect! But you forget to check if it has any other meaning, It could be in another language or it could be just a slang expression. Depending on your target group it can be OK but it’s better you know it before launching than after.
Not checking can become very expensive like Honda discovered with their car Honda Fitta. Google it if you dare.
Your name becomes what you fill it with
Remember that your name is just the start and not everything. Depending on how you run your business or product it can become stronger or weaker.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”Warren Buffett
Make sure you continue working on your brand after naming it. Your next step is probably to create a logo and graphic identity that aligns with the name.