Naming Your Startup: Finding the Right Brand Image & the Startups that Did It

September 15, 2016
 

You’ve had the idea for your startup. You’ve created and market tested a product, found the perfect target audience, and have a dedicated team behind you. What’s left? Time to give your company a name. What’s in a name? Is it really that important to get it exactly right? 

Yes! While it may seem like an easy decision, there are important components to consider. Your name will inform your marketing strategy, logo, expansion, and even your mission later on. Consider this advice to find the right name for your startup -- for now, and the future. 

Your Purpose & Your Customer

Having a consumer-focused marketing strategy is key to connecting to your consumer. Start your consumer-centric journey with naming your business. Ask yourself -- what is the purpose of my business? The vision? By thinking through the purpose and mission, you’ll hone in closer to the brand and the image you want to portray to your consumers. How are you helping your consumers? What problem are you solving for them with your product or service? Try completing this sentence to start: 

We help our “customers” do “problem” by “solutions.” 

For “customers,” enter your target market and who your company is intended to serve. For “problem,” think of the issue that first drew you to creating your company. For “solution,” enter what your product or service does. After you’re comfortable with this statement, replace “we” with some of your top company name prospects. Does it feel right? Does it flow? Does it represent your brand and image appropriately?

By focusing on how you solve your customers' problems and the brand image you’d like to depict, you connect your name to your purpose. It magnifies your business purpose and the importance of your consumers. A clear example of this is “Spotify.” Founders of Spotify considered what they wanted their streaming app to do for consumers. They landed on “spotting” new music they’ll enjoy, and “identifying” old favorites or genres. Hence, the combination to create “Spotify!” 

SEO Value and Digital Real Estate

You may be tempted to name your product something like a common noun, phrase, or first name. However, this will make it that much harder for your consumers to find you, especially online. If your name is too common, search engines will not rank you high. Search engine optimization, or SEO, will come from having a unique name that customers can easily identify. By choosing a name that is unique enough to stand out, but easy to find, you can create a search engine optimized name. 

The other component to be aware of is digital real estate. You want consumers to be able to find your company on all social platforms. Choose a name that is available across social platforms; social media name consistency is key to brand consistency, linking all your accounts under one name. 

Consider Audi, the car company. The founder already had a company under his last name, Horch. So, he chose the Latin word for his last name, “Audi.” This made it so the company could pursue brand consistency across various platforms, limited competition with the other company, and individualized the business. 

Another important component to consider with ranking well SEO-wise and with digital brand consistency is the domain name. As stated before, domain names are key in determining relevance in search engines. Before choosing a company name, run a search on your top choices. Search the Secretary of State records, looking for companies with similar domain names. Are there other companies with similar names already trademarked? 

Speak and Be Heard: Sound and Spelling of Names

Is the name easy to pronounce? Is it easy to understand, and easy to remember? Can you spell it easily? When considering names, say them out loud. Choose the ones that flow off your tongue the best and rate them higher than those that don’t. If people hear your brand name, but can’t remember how it is spelled, they will search for the pronunciation they can remember. So, make sure the spelling makes sense. 

Think of Coca Cola. They wanted to name their company after two of the original ingredients -- the coca leaves and kola nuts. However, they adjusted the spelling so it matched the way it sounded for consumers. You can also look to Draft Kings, with CEO Jason Robins simplifying the brand name to create the right sound/flow of the name. 

The sound of the company name should hit your ear nicely, not in a way that could turn off some consumers. Should you want to be a global company, choose a name that is pronounceable by non-English speakers, and make sure it doesn’t translate into something unfortunate! 

Think Globally, Not Locally

While your startup might be local-only for now, that doesn’t mean you should name the company based on something local. It limits your demographic scope. Think bigger geographically -- where would you ideally serve, if you grew? Not limiting yourself to only a locally known concept or term helps your growth plans later on. 

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t honor your local roots. Adobe was named after the creek that ran behind the homes of the co-founders. Duane Reade found its name from the two streets their first warehouse intersected -- Duane Street and Reade Street. You can honor your roots, while planning for the future. 

Humanize Your Brand

Above all else, you want your customers to feel a connection to your brand. You want to encourage their brand loyalty, warm connections with your brand, and to link a solution to their problem with your name/product. Ideally, you want to appear as an interactive, human brand. An increasing number of startups are focusing on aligning their name with positive brand opinions. Studies are also linking shorter names to higher success and likeability in various markets. 

Apple chose their name in part due to the non-intimidating, welcoming, and warm memories that apples inspire for many Americans. Now, they are serving a worldwide audience and pioneers in the technology industry. 

Be Inspired! Playing with Words, Logos, & Purpose

Are you still struggling with coming up with ideas? Take a deep breath! Consider what inspired you to start your company. Return to those moments, to see if anything brought some inspiration to you once again. You can also consider looking at book covers, your designed logo, movie titles, and even Scrabble tiles. These may trigger an idea for you or some form of creative inspiration. 

Arm & Hammer came up with their name from their logo, designed to show the arm and hammer of the Roman god Vulcan. Starbucks took their name from a famous character in Melville’s novel, Moby Dick (a favorite novel of the founder) and used it to inform their logo. Depending on creative inspiration or honoring something that has inspired you can lead to the perfect brand name for you. 

Naming your company can be complicated, but doing it right means you can reflect your vision and purpose to the world. By considering our advice, you’ll reach the right audience with the right image of your brand. 

Looking for expert advice on positioning and launching your new product? Metis would love to help you. Contact us today and we’ll help you build your brand into the best it can be. 

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