Imagine if instead of “Google” it, you had to “Larry Page and Sergey Brin Search Engine Company” it?
The name you choose for your company, product or the brand is probably going to be one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the process of starting a company, only second to the nature of business itself. It will be the name you would mentally verbalise a 100 times a day and hope for it to become a household name in due time. (So much so that it’d start seeing its own spinoffs!)
The days of companies named after their founders are long gone. (Here’s looking at you Aditya Birla Group and Tata Group of Companies!) and are replaced by names that are shorter, catchy, often even made-up, and most importantly names that become part of your everyday vocabulary.
You become the Uber, The Google or Zomato of something.
So what are the factors one should keep before naming their company? We did some research and found the following patterns:
1. Short and snappy
The name can be one word – which could be an existing word or a completely made up one, like OYO. Zomato is nothing but Tomato with a Z and is today one of the most recognizable brand names in India. Trivia time: Did you know that Häagen-Dazs is a completely made up name, just to indicate an exotic sentiment and not really a Scandinavian dynasty business?
Just being short isn’t enough. The name should be easy to pronounce and have a certain “ring” to it, the inexplicable factor that makes some brand just stick. There’s a reason why you’d rather call an Ola, than call a TaxiForSure. Another few good examples of brand names that are catchy are Chumbak, Myntra and Flipkart.
3. SEO friendly
Now, the name should be simple, short and catchy enough, but cannot be something so generic that Google can’t tell your brand name from a general word. I wonder what the owners of the brand “People” were thinking when they, rather unimaginatively, named it People. A search on “People” brand is unlikely to fetch their own website on the top results.
4. Social Media friendly
In this day, when brands are created and enhanced on social media, can you ignore the bearing the name could have on social media performance? For eg. a long name is going to amount to Twitter suicide if you were to create a campaign that went #AdityaBirlaGroupPresentsSelfieWithSRK!
5. Reflects your brand personality and product
While it’s important to have a cool and catchy name, it can’t be totally unrelated to the product. If you’re a rice manufacturer, and not a funky Tshirt brand, do not try to pull this off.
6. Available to claim as a website or social media credentials
So, you’ve come up with a great name that ticks all of the above checklist, but wait a second, the domain name is already taken up! You could’ve sworn you chose a unique name. But well, that’s the way naming cookie crumbles. Even if you find the domain, it’s possible the social media accounts are already claimed by an unrelated business or individual. When social media is going to be big part of your marketing efforts, you just cannot afford to go with a name that’s not available for you to create your digital identity. Imagine, Google’s dismay when they couldn’t own the Twitter account after re-structuring into Alphabet?
7. Factors in future expansion plans
While you may name your company after your only product right now, it’s possible you may venture into other products in the future. While the name should reflect the personality of your product, at the same time, it shouldn’t be limited to your current product offering. The apparel company “The Tshirt Company”, may have troubles selling party wear dresses in the future. Not to mention, if you’re a web business, the power of a singular top domain, will help synergise your SEO, instead of needing to have different websites for each of your businesses. Buzzfeed is a great example of this, who have effortlessly forayed into subcategories of content, like DIY/News/Animals all while retaining the domain name Buzzfeed.com.
While names are rather language- agnostic, the sound and the etymology can make them sound “Hindi”, “Vernacular” or foreign. While choosing the language, your market should be factored in. Selling to the young, urban audience, English or a variation is good. But if it’s the regional markets that are going to be your primary audience, having a vernacular touch in the name helps.
If you make your startup sound like another brand, it’s just going to come across as a cheap copy. Spend some time researching if the name you like already exists in a similar version.