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The 5-Step Startup Naming Guide

It has been said “words have meaning but names have power.” When it comes to finding a name for your company, this is sage advice to keep in mind.

A strong company or product name can be the aural equivalent of a firm handshake. It is the ultimate distillation of the company’s identity and the cornerstone on which brand architecture is built. Finding a name that fits your company’s offerings, values and aspirations is the first step in creating a clear, unique voice that will carry your message through to each of your target audiences, be they consumers, investors, press or industry partners.

Yet, in the hectic, often stressful world of a startup company, the task of finding an appropriate name often risks being an after-thought – a scramble to find an appropriate domain name that’s still available or a name that doesn’t sound too similar to an existing competitor. But investing some time and energy upfront in finding the right name can be a key asset for launch – and pay dividends as the company matures.

To that end, ARTÉMIA has created a simple 5-step startup naming guide to help you find a great, resounding company name. When working on a name for your company, ask yourself these questions:

1. What are your brand values? What is your mission statement?

A thorough review of your company and offering, customer base and competitor landscape will allow you to arrive at your brand values. Having a clear sense of what your brand values are, and what your market positioning and aspirations are, will provide you with the framework and inspiration to start finding your company name. It should also make for less arbitrary choices – so much the better if it leads to a name with a story behind it.

2. Is the domain name available?

There are great sites around, such as Domainr, that allow you to quickly check if your domain is available and provide alternatives if your name is already taken. Another key point must be considered here. Playing with spelling to the extent that it’s difficult to read – or indeed just looks as though that compromise has been knowingly made – in order to secure a domain name should be avoided where possible. Clearly companies such as Flickr and Tumblr have successfully subverted the rules somewhat, but using double vowels or multiple period points (e.g.‘Barr.I.Er) just adds confusion and makes organic search difficult. Which leads on to our third point…

3. Is the name easy to read and easy to say?

This may sound like an obvious point, but having a name that reads clearly and is phonetically sound makes things easier from the get-go, especially in the early stages of low brand-awareness. Equally important is to check for any double-meanings that might have negative connotations, which an online search should reveal pretty quickly.

This is also a key step in understanding if the name chosen is a barrier or benefit to marketing messaging. Company slogans can do a lot of heavy-lifting to give deeper insight into the company as the name requires, but creating trustworthy, on-brand marketing collateral becomes infinitely harder if the name acts in a conflicting manner.

4. Does the name have longevity and originality?

Basically, avoid a name that may be limiting in the future. Don’t tie your name to a specific technology, function or geography that may be correct at launch but may change as the company grows and standards change.

It’s also important to try and find clear ground to avoid confusion with any competitors. For example, there are a plethora of social media and online companies with “buzz” in their titles which, while being a strong indication of the area in which they function, can imply a certain element of sameness.

5. And finally, does it pass the friends and family test?

Simply, do those people closest to you – and most likely to give you unbiased feedback – like the name? This step is purposefully last, as we believe it’s important for any potential name, having gone through these steps, to live within the startup itself for a little while and see how they work on a day-to-day basis. Further, too many opinions early on can make the process frustrating and disorderly. However this is not a step to be missed – a resounding thumbs up or universal thumbs down is the final, crucial litmus test on your search for the right name!

Looking for further startup advice? Drop us a line!


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