By Monserrat Irazoqui.
Names are important. Usually, when a couple finds out they’re expecting a baby, they don’t immediately think stuff like “What is their personality going to be like? Will the baby be hairy? Will our baby be the next Mark Zuckerberg?”. No, they think “How are we going to name him/her?”. We instantly make emotional connections with names. How many people you know have their SO’s name or their lover’s initial letter tattooed on their skin? We bond with names. If a certain person makes you feel good, you instantly link their name to some warm feelings. On the other hand, if someone makes you feel everything but good, God forbid you hear that name again in your life and laser it away from your skin and heart.
So, it makes sense that choosing a name for your future company is a big deal. It will be able to attract customers or maybe even repel some away by just hearing it. You want to attract the right crowd and connotation to it. For instance, Blue Balls Boutique…seriously? I don’t think that is a store any man or woman would like to go to.
And, just as future parents of a baby give hard thought to their baby’s names, you should do so as well. This is your business baby we’re talking about here. You won’t want your company to be bullied in the startups playground or be rejected by a VC because their name reminds them of an investment gone wrong. Your company’s name should be the first step towards success. Here are some tips that we want to share with you when choosing a name:
- Define if you want an abstract or a literal name
Some abstract names have made it BIG. Google, Etsy, and Reddit are good examples of making up a name and give to it your own meaning. This kind of names offer some flexibility because if you find yourself in need to pivot from the original idea, you can switch to something else without the need to change the name as well. Also, you will most likely have no competition when buying a domain name, which can be a real pain in the ass.
A literal name can also be good since it will tell right away what is it that you do, instead of giving out your elevator pitch on the spot. It will save you time and money because you will know that whoever is using your product or service understands what it is that you do.
- Think about the big picture
Consider everything. What product and/or service will you offer, the company values, future goals, mission and vision, etc. Think about what you want your company, brand, and name to represent. If the company that you are trying to build could speak, how would its voice be like: playful, formal, high-pitched joyful, spunky, elegant, or what?
Once you have decided this, everything else will run smoother.
- Get inspired
Inspiration is everywhere. I came up with my puppy’s name when reading the menu of a ramen restaurant (her name is MuShu, just FYI). The key for finding inspiration from your surroundings is an open heart and mind. You do not have to go to a spiritual retreat or eat some hallucinating mushrooms to come up with a name. When you approach your day-to-day with this openness, you will get rays of inspiration anywhere you are. You’d be surprised from the activities and places you can find inspiration from.
- Make a list of potential names
Now, that you know what kind of name you want, it is highly important now to brainstorm. Write down every single name that comes to mind; no matter how dumb or cheesy it may sound. Get it all out. After you are done brainstorming, choose your top 5 favorites and after that, do some market research.
Reach out to a few relatives, friends, workmates, or your Uber driver and ask them what they think about the names and which is their favorite. After you have gotten some insight on how people react to them, choose the one that you think is the most appropriate.
Look up the name online. There might be other places with that name, which is NBD, unless they are in the same industry as yours or are significantly bigger than you are; if this is the case, toss it out. Also, make sure that it doesn’t have any negative connotation. Go beyond the first and second page on Google and look it up on Urban Dictionary; you never know what can be turned into a dirty word these days. If you find out it is somehow related to something dirty or negative, better to toss it out. But, if you did all the research possible in this life, and it has positive things in relation to it and no one in your field or, better yet, no one has that name…Congratulations, my friend, you have found your company’s name! And, be a friend, and invite us to the launch party.