Startup journeys are hard — they involve creating a product that users want, finding willing VCs, managing hundreds of employees, and outmaneuvering many competitors. There’s lots of blood, sweat and tears along the way. But for most startup founders, the first hurdle comes along before they’ve even started off — in choosing a startup name.
Choosing a name for a startup might sound like a breeze, but it can harder than you’d imagine. Not only is it difficult to come up with a name that’s unique, it can be even more difficult to come up with a name for which a domain is available. The problem is especially vexing for consumer-facing startups — their name is essentially their brand, and they need to ensure that it’s easy-to-remember, compelling, and accurate in describing what they do.
Here are some tips for choosing a startup name that reduces marketing friction:
1.Try to make it immediately apparent what your company does with its name: It’s ideal if your company name can briefly describe your business. Someone who hears about your business for the first time should ideally be able to tell what you do. A name for a magazine, like Entrepreneur, makes it very clear what the magazine will be about. A name like “Inc” might not be ideal for a company while starting out — Inc is a big brand now, but it doesn’t immediately describe what the magazine might focus on. A simple name will reduce marketing friction later on — you’ll be saved the trouble of explaining what your name is and what it means, each time you’re trying to make a sale.
2. It’s even better to describe the target market: For a consumer-facing business, it can help to immediately describe your target market. MensXP and Femina make it apparent that the magazines are meant, respectively, for men and women. Some other examples of businesses that have their target market in their name are Hostelbookers.com, for a site that lets people book hostels, a
3. Make it short: In 2018, it might not be easy to trademark or find a domain like Hotel.com or booking.com any more. But while thinking of startup name ideas, what you can do is make your company’s name short. You might need to get creative, but that’s the point of entrepreneurship anyway. While searching for startup name ideas, Ozy doesn’t mean much, but it’s a short three-letter name for a millennial focussed blog. Same with a messenger like Kik — again, doesn’t mean much, but short and easy to remember. PayPal is another one — short and s
4. Make it memorable: It’s even better if your name has a nice story attached to it. A clever story can help make an impression on the minds of your audience. Reddit doesn’t mean anything by itself, but when spoken out, it sounds like “Read it”. The site’s founders wanted users to discover links on the site, so that they could say that they read it on Reddit. Online Hotel aggregator Oyo’s name stands for On Your Own, because it started off as a site for single travelers to find rooms.
5. If nothing else works, use your own name: This sounds counter-intuitive, but having your own name as the name of your company builds trust — if you’re willing to stake your reputation on the company, both customers and suppliers start trusting you just a little bit more. Some of the world’s biggest businesses are named after people — Donald Trump names his hotels, casinos and golf courses after himself, and businesses like Ford, Ferrari, Adidas, and Ben and Jerry’s are also named after their founders.