Finding the perfect name for your startup is an investment in your future. And today’s startups are increasingly anxious when creating and choosing their name, as dramatized on TV shows like Silicon Valley’s “Pied Piper” and Parks & Recreation “Gryzzl.” Don’t be the laughing stock of the startup world. The last thing you want is to spend all your time and money on a business name, only to find out it’s already taken, isn’t memorable, or just doesn’t work for your business and audience.
Crowdsource Naming Platform Squadhelp.com has used this 8 Step Process nearly 10,000 times to create excellent names for startups, brands, products, and just about everything else.
1. Create a Statement of Purpose
It’s hard to create a name for your business if you haven’t quite figured out exactly what your business does. If you haven’t made a statement of purpose, value proposition, unique selling proposition, or positioning statement yet, you can use this simple formula to get started:
[Great Business Name] helps [audience] [core benefits].
Begin by jotting down short sentences and phrases that sum up your concept. Defining your business will make it easier to go through the naming process.
2. Create an Ideal Customer Persona
In order to appeal to your customers, you need to know exactly who they are. Create a specific ideal customer persona – the type of person who will benefit most from your product or service. Ask yourself questions like “Who am I selling to?” and “Who should this appeal to?” Everything from age to location to interests to shopping behaviors should be included in your customer persona. Define their characteristics, as well as their wants or desires.
3. Research and Reflect
Now it’s time to start finding a name that fits your statement of purpose and your customer persona. Consider the following as you begin brainstorming names:
- Emotions: How do you want people to feel when they hear your company name? Should your name be fun, serious, thought-provoking, hip? Narrowing this will help with word choice and structure.
- Customer Benefits: Create a list of reasons your customer persona will want to purchase from you. Start with the obvious reasons, then dive deeper to find unexpected answers. Let your mind wander.
- Models: What company names do you love? What company names do you hate? This can help you figure out what type of name will work for your business. Research other companies in your industry and discover the naming trends. While you never want to copy someone’s name, using naming models is a great way to spur ideas.
4. Get Help
It’s almost impossible to develop a name for your startup all on your own. Working with others will help you come up with a diverse shortlist and have confidence in selecting a name.
Once you assemble your team, follow these guidelines to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand:
- Share your naming brief: Share your statement of purpose and other info about your idea, as well as any other research you did in the previous steps.
- Keep a running list: Write down everything. You might get inspired later to combine ideas, or at least you’ll want a history of all the options.
- Consider every idea: Go through each name and consider it carefully
- Provide feedback: Respond to the ideas and provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
Not only will this help you get better responses from your team, it can also teach you a lot about your startup.
5. Make a Shortlist
Go through all the names you’ve considered and whittle it down to a shortlist of favorites. Review all the names from your brainstorming activities. Often, a name that you did not love at first will jump out with new relevance or meaning on a second or third pass. And remember, names are productive communications tools. Use concrete criteria to judge your names--don’t just rely on “how they make you feel.”
6. Analyze the Linguistics
When it’s time for your business to go global, you don’t want to discover your name has an unfortunate meaning in another country. Play it safe and translate your potential startup name into other popular languages. Also try searching “business name + Country” to make sure that brand doesn’t already exist!
7. Test Your Name with Customers
Find a way to survey a group of potential customers, asking them about your top 3 - 6 names. Choosing a name can come with a lot of anxiety, and this step helps you make this final decision with a lot more confidence.
8. Look for Potential Trademark Problems
Always consult a professional to confirm the legality of your startup name. A quick search on USPTO.gov will give you some information, but a lawyer is the best way to cover yourself for the future.
A name is the most used aspect of your brand. When naming your new venture, you have the opportunity to make your name a productive asset that will support your future success. Following this process will help you develop great names and make a final choice with confidence, making this anxiety ridden process of naming much faster, easier, and more fun.