Your business name is important — but what’s the difference between a company name and…
How to Name Your Startup
A business name can make or break a new startup — the name of your startup is the first thing a new client or customer hears and creates an immediate and permanent impression. If you’re not sure how to go about naming your startup, start here.
Selecting the right name for your startup can be an extremely difficult process. The name of a business or organization is indicative of its purpose, goals, and characteristics. Choosing the right name for your startup means selecting a name that accurately transmits the image and culture it represents — the process of selecting a business name is an inevitable and often complicated stage in the development of any startup.
A powerful, impactful, and memorable business name is the key to success in many aspects of a startup and plays an important role in both marketing and branding. While business name generators can assist in the name development process, carefully selecting the right name can cost hundreds of hours in business development costs.
This guide functions as a definitive step-by-step process in creating the ideal name for your startup.
Why is Naming Psychology Important?
The name of a startup speaks on behalf of founders, employees, and team members, even when they are not present. The first impression delivered by a startup name has a profound impact on how your target market segment will perceive you and the factors they associate it with — business names are extremely important.
When it comes to naming your business, it’s important to effectively communicate the core values of your organization. A rugged or disruptive business, for example, may select a slightly controversial or “edgy” name, while businesses focused on luxury markets or products may select a name that communicates gravitas and prestige.
Any startup or new business must understand that there will be individuals within the market segment they target that will view a startup from a negative perspective regardless of the actions they take. Minority perspectives have little impact on the overall success of your business. A majority negative response to the name of your business, however, can indicate that you may need to consider other names.
What to Avoid When Naming Your Startup
The best place to start when determining the best name for your startup is understanding what not to do. The most important rule regarding business name composition is that the name you choose for your business must be simple and easy to remember, pronounce, and spell.
If your clients or customers encounter difficulty when trying to say the name of your startup, it’s highly likely that they will avoid saying it altogether. It’s best to avoid intentionally confusing misspelling in your business name, or names with complex intentional misspelling design to create intrigue — more often than not, these techniques simply make names more confusing.
A standard benchmark to apply to the business name you’ve chosen in order to determine whether it’s too confusing is to apply the “crowded bar theory” to a name. If you, hypothetically, were attempting to tell the name of your startup to a friend at a loud, crowded bar, would it be easy to understand? If a name could easily be misheard as an unappealing portmanteau of two otherwise normal words, the crowded bar theory will identity this issue. It’s essential that a brand name must only be heard once in order to be understood correctly.
The most effective business name are those that are easy to pronounce and easy to spell are the names that are most likely to be remembered by your target market. When customers are satisfied with the product or service you deliver, they will share the name of your business with their personal network and act as agents of your brand. A smooth, memorable, easy to pronounce brand name makes it easier for your customers to share it with others.
Unique Names Versus Descriptive Names
A highly descriptive name can provide your audience with insight into the products or services that your business offers, but it’s possible to select a name that is too descriptive, rendering it static and boring.
An office supplies company, for example, that selects the name “Certified Office Supply Items,” has chosen an extremely descriptive name that, from the name alone, provides their target market with a complete understanding of the products or services they deliver, and the purpose they are used for. The name, however, is not unique.
A highly descriptive name may make your business appear average and ordinary — this kind of business name is outdated and is unable to compete in modern markets due to its inability to spark interest or intrigue in customers. It’s best to select a less descriptive, more unique name to capture the attention of your target market.
The Importance of Name Length
Long names can create many issues and problems for new startups. A long, cumbersome name can demotivate potential customers or clients, primarily due to the fact that a long business name is typically associated with a long domain name.
When creating a business name for your startup, it’s important to take possible social media handles into consideration. Twitter, for example, is a key social media platform that allows businesses to interact directly with their target market. Twitter handles are limited to just 15 characters, so a business that plans on interacting with their target market on social media may consider limiting their business name to the same length.
It’s possible to apply this concept in reverse and search for domains for sale that are relevant to your market segment — many domain names for sale may meet the exact requirements you’re looking for in a business name.
Represent the Purpose of Your Startup
Defining the core purpose of your startup is a highly effective way to narrow down potential names. Taking some time to describe the ambition and key goals of your business along with the promise it makes to the customer can identify the core purpose of your startup.
A startup’s name should communicate the purpose it operates with — defining your purpose outside of revenue or growth goals as an overarching reason for business operation will not only help you create a strong, impactful business name, but also assists with the goal-setting process.
Identify Your Target Audience
Taking the time to define the target audience of your brand not only helps you gain insight into your clients and customers and their preferences, but is also a critical tool when creating and executing a content marketing strategy, a social media campaign, or a direct marketing or email newsletter campaign.
The insights you gain from accurately defining your target audience will help you determine what resonates with your customers and clients. To define your target audience, it’s best to qualify them with as many metrics as possible, which can include:
● Background and demographics such as history, gender, age, role, income, and company
● Hobbies or interests
● Short, medium, and long-term goals
● Daily challenges
● Common objections
● Biggest fears
● Market messaging
It’s not necessary to define every single element listed above when identifying your target demographic, but the more information you can target, the more accurate your impression of your audience. It’s also worth taking the time to identify a negative persona, or a market you don’t want to target, in order to determine what kind of messages you should avoid when composing your brand name.
Test Your Target Audience
The best way to accurately identify your target market and primary buyer persona is to perform A/B testing. This process provides a startup with deep, actionable insight into who wants to buy the product or service they deliver, and the key similarities shared between these individuals.
A powerful and highly effective way to test your target audience is by researching existing customer databases. It’s critical when contacting existing customer databases for audience testing to clearly explain that the purpose of the contact is not a sales meeting — miscommunicating the reason for getting in touch may provide inaccurate data.
When assembling an audience for target audience testing, it’s best to perform 3 to 5 interviews for every buyer persona you have identified that may be interested in the products or services you deliver. During an audience interview, ask your subject a variety of questions related to the metrics used in identifying your target audience, such as:
● What is your profession?
● What is your title?
● What kind of daily challenges do you face?
● Do you use any social media platforms? If so, which ones?
● What are your key goals or objectives?
Exploring the answers provided by audience members during interviews and asking them to define the reasons they provide the answers they give can deliver additional insight into what motivates your target audience.
How to Brainstorm Keywords
Brainstorming keywords that are associated with your startup is another powerful tool that can streamline the process of selecting a business name. Once you’ve identified the keywords that are most closely associated with your startup, transform, unify, and mix them in order to create names. When using this strategy, it’s best to stick to two-syllable names in order to make them easier to remember.
Creating a portmanteau, or union of two words, can lead to either an explicit or implicit name. An explicit name clearly defines the purpose of the business or company — “Facebook” is one of the best examples of an explicit name. The name Facebook explicitly defines what the platform is and the kind of services it delivers.
An implicit name, however, is a name that alludes to or is associated with the service or product provided by a company without outright defining it. A good example of an implicit name is “Tesla” — named after the radio and electric pioneer, Nikola Tesla.
When choosing either an implicit or explicit name, however, it’s best to ensure that your business name isn’t too short, as this may create difficulties when attempting to register a domain name.
Create a Name Shortlist
Once you’ve created a list of names that reflect the core values and purpose of your business and reflect the desires of your target audience, it’s time to create a shortlist of names you like. This process is best achieved by creating a spreadsheet or document that scores each name on 4 different criteria.
Assign each name a “good,” “average,” or “poor” value for each of the following metrics:
● Intuitive: Is the name related to or suggestive of your business?
● Visual: Is the name visually appealing?
● Sound: Does the name sound appealing?
● Emotional value: How do people react and feel when they hear the business name?
When selecting the best name from your shortlist, it’s worth assessing the linguistic value of your name. Some startup founders create a new business, select a business name, and launch, but through coincidence may select a name that means something offensive or prohibited in another country. Wordsafety is a powerful tool that can help you determine whether a word is universally inoffensive or not.
Key Legal Requirements
After you’ve chosen your name, it’s likely that you’ll want to use it as a business name for your startup. In Australia, a business name is a name through which an entity or individual conducts business.
When you register a business name in Australia, you are responsible for ensuring that the name is unique. It’s not possible to register a business name that is extremely similar or identical to another business name.
It’s important to note that registering a business name is a legal obligation in Australia, but this does not provide a business with exclusive ownership over a name. If you want to ensure that the brand name you choose for your business can only be used by your business alone, you’ll need to take additional steps such as registering a trademark.
Domain Names and Trademarks
A trademark is used by startups and Australian businesses to protect the unique business name they create, ensuring that the identity of their business is secured as wholly unique. Trademarks can consist of a variety of letters, words, phrases, or in some cases, unique packaging, logos, pictures, or specific shapes.
Within the context of brand names, a startup that wants to preserve its business name as intellectual property should register it as a trademark. This process ensures that another company cannot use the same name.
There are two methods that can be used to secure a business name with a trademark in Australia:
1. Registration with IP Australia
It’s possible to register a business name or a brand name with a trademark through IP Australia. This is the simplest method and most likely to be applied to new names created by Australian startups, as it’s possible to register a trademark before you begin to trade with it.
2. Registration through an established reputation in the marketplace
This method is unlikely to apply to new startups, as it’s primarily used by businesses seeking to acquire a trademark based on reputation associated with a name through a common law trademark.
Once you’ve trademarked your business name, it’s time to register a domain name in order to create a website for your business. There are multiple different “top-level domains” to select from, such as .com, .net, or .com.au, which requires an Australian ABN to register. Alternatively, it’s possible to use a variety of novel top-level domains, such as .studio, .photos, or even .Sydney or .Melbourne.
Finding the best possible brand name for your business or startup can be a complex, time-consuming task. There are many complicated challenges and obstacles that must be overcome in order to compose a striking business name that effectively communicates your brand story with your audience.
Performing target audience research, brainstorming keywords, identifying unique names, and representing the core purpose of your business are all strategies that can help you identify the best name for your startup. Ideally, your business name will create an immediate impression, be easy to pronounce, and be highly memorable.
Once you’ve identified your business name, you may want to pursue a trademark for it to ensure that it cannot be used by any other businesses in the Australian market. Learn more about implementing a name here.
Choosing the best business name possible is just one of the many tasks that must be completed to launch a new startup in Australia. If you’re currently considering launching one in Australia or are setting up a company and aren’t sure where to go next, reach out to Fullstack for professional guidance today.
Was this article helpful?
Stuart Reynolds is the founder of Fullstack Advisory, an award-winning accounting firm for businesses leading the future. He is a 3rd generation accountant who specialises in tech companies, crypto and entrepreneurs.