How to Name Your Startup

name your startup

Several Times we have faced this question from various startups that comes to Munim.in for Trademark Registration or Company Registration that what things should we keep in mind before naming a company, How to name the startup or brand, what all things to do to name the startup.

Several times, we have faced the situation wherein the Startups in the very beginning name the company without research in the legal directories and later on when they apply for Trademark Registration or Company Registration, they face difficulty in getting the desired name on which they have marketed the product.

A Clear Suggestion, Avoid This Situation.

It is to be understood that its just a one time cost (may in terms of time) to zero down to a great name but the benefit is forever.

It is to be understood that its just a one time cost (may in terms of time) to zero down to a great name but the benefit is forever.

Here we present, a list of Do’s and Don’ts while deciding on the Name of your Startup or Brand:

1. Make sure it’s legal and not being used!  This should be obvious, but it’s an important step that too many entrepreneurs skip.  Before attaching yourself to a name, make sure that someone else doesn’t already have claim to it by way of a trademark.  You should take a quick look at Trademark Search (available at Munim.in Footer). The good news is that if you satisfy some of the other conditions below (domain name, twitter handle, Facebook name), odds are relatively low that someone’s already using the name.

2. Hint At What You Do:  You have two paths to go when picking a startup name.  You can pick a name that is “synthetic” and made-up (example: Quora) or you can use somthing that is somewhat descriptive of what you do (example: Snapdeal or flipkart).  Synthetic names are often great in the long, long-term (easily trademarkable, and you can truly “own” them and infuse them with meaning).

3. Make it easy to remember: How do you know whether a startup name is easy to remember?  You don’t know.  So, test it.  Talk to people.  Describe the company.  At the end of a 2–10 minute conversation, casually ask them if they remember what the name of the company is.  If it didn’t “register” it’s not a failure on their part (and make sure to tell them that), but a failure on your part for not having something that’s memorable enough.

4. Make it unambiguous when spoken:  A quick way to test this is to ask friends and family what they think of the name over the phone — and ask them to spell it back to you.  If a decent percent of them get it wrong — or are uncertain, you’ve got a problem.

5. Make it unambiguous in Google:  If your name is something like “Pumpkin”, you’re going to have a harder time distinguishing when people are talking about the generic term, or when they’re talking about your company.  Of course, there are plenty of examples where a startup started with a generic word and went on to be pretty successful (Mint.com jumps to mind).  That’s why these are suggestions (not laws) and they’re changeable.

6.  The social media handles have to be available.  No tricks with numbers and underscores and stuff.  You want the most natural, obvious twitter handle that matches your company name.  This is not quite as hard as .com domain names — but getting harder every day.

7. Keep it short.  Always good advice, but particularly true in the age of Twitter/facebook.  The more characters in your company name, the more characters in the tweets that people write that mention your company name.  The fewer the syllables, the easier it is for people to say.  Great examples of one and two-syllable names:  Dropbox, Mint, FreshBooks, ZenDesk. 

8. Try to get your main keyword into the name.  This helps with SEO and signals to potential visitors what they might find on your site.  For example, one of sites is YourStory.com.  Not particularly creative, but you have to admit — it’s clear.  (And, is likely partly responsible for my high rankings in Google for a bunch of startup related words).

9. Don’t name your company after yourself.  When customers hear something like “Ramesh Sharma Enterprises”, it doesn’t make them immediately think “Wow, that must be an awfully cool/successful/stable company”.  It sounds a bit amateurish right at the get go.  The other reason is that if you name the company after yourself, too many people are going to want to talk to you.  That’s ok when you’re the only person in the company to talk to, but becomes problematic as your startup grows and there are other people trying to sell/support/market.

10. Don’t Use An Acronym:  It’s hard to get emotional about a three letter acronym.  It’s hard to hug an acronym.  As a corollary to this, try not to have a company name with three words in it, because it’s long enough that people are going to be tempted to reduce it to an acronym.

11. Have a story.  When someone asks (and they will), so why did you pick X for your name, it’s nice to have something relatively interesting to say.  Names are a part of your personality, and the absence of a personality is rarely a good thing.  It’s OK to be purely scientific in your name selection, but a good story never hurts. 

12. Pay attention to character sequences in multi-word names:  This one’s a bit subtle.  But, if you have a name that is two words stuck together, then be mindful of what character ends the first word, and what starts the second.  Example: If your company name is something like BetterReading, it’s sub-optimal (because Better ends with “R” and reading starts with “R”.  Normally, that’s OK, but when you type it out as a URL, people will often see:  betterreading.com — which is not terrible, but does cause the brain to “pause” for a micro-second because it feels a tad unnatural.  And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the widely popular example of unfortunate character sequences:  expertsexchange.com.  When capitalized properly, this name is just fine (ExpertsExchange) which is what the site owners intended.  But, it turns out, this can be confused as “ExpertSexChange” (which is not what was intended).  Make sure you think through the combinations properly.

13. Seek timeless instead of trendy:  It seems that every generation of startups has their own “trendy” approach to names.  Examples are the dropping-vowels thing (like Flickr), the breaking up of words (like del.icio.us) or the newly fashionable “.ly” names. Pick a name that is timeliness.  One that people will see 10 years from now and not think “Hey, they’re one of those companies…”. 

So try to think on these lines while naming your startup offering and believe that getting a name registered through Trademark Registration is very very important.

Do remember the case of Foodiebay rechristened to Zomato, because ebay in its name being one of the reasons and the name was not Trademark registered

Munim.in is a marketplace for professional services like company registration, trademark registration and other related services.