One of the single most important tasks a startup’s founding team is faced with is naming the company or brand. While the core products and services will ultimately determine whether or not the startup is successful, the brand name plays a major role in how quickly and efficiently the business scales.
The Significance of the Brand Name
“In one sense, perhaps the most important sense, a brand is a promise,”
As humans, our brains are capable of quickly evaluating information and making real-time judgments and decisions based on the emotions we feel and the facts we know. In fact, research has found that judgments are made within three to seven seconds of meeting someone. It’s only natural that this ability to judge translates over to a customer’s interactions with brands.
“Your customers or investors fluency with the name you choose to give your business can make a huge difference when it comes to the ultimate success of your overall ventures,” writes Ilya Pozin, an Entrepreneur.com contributor. Pozin then goes on to reference a study in which researchers discovered that stocks with easier to pronounce names outperform those with more difficult to pronounce names. On the first day of trading alone, the simple stock names earn 11 percent more than their counterparts.
All of this is just further proof that brand names matter. There are a lot of brand-specific and industry issues that will go into the naming of your brand, but don’t take it lightly. The long term impact can be significant.
The 5 Keys to Choosing the Right Brand Name
Choosing a name is both an exciting and anxious process. You’re making a decision that will ultimately impact the future success of your business. While you need to take the process seriously, don’t be afraid to have some fun with it. Branding is one of the more creative parts of being a business owner, so make the most of this opportunity. One day you’ll relish the thought of branding when you’re spending your days pouring over spreadsheets and stressing over budgets.
By relying on the following five keys to choosing a brand name, you’ll make the right choice. Just remember to have patience throughout the process and avoid rushing your final decision. It’s better to come to market two weeks late than it is to invest in a premature brand name that will ultimately limit your growth potential.
#1. Choose Something Unique and Memorable
Generic brand names say something about your business. While you may think adding “and associates” to your name is a great way to name your law firm, aren’t you just blending in with every other firm in your industry? That’s not going to propel you to the top any time soon.
Finding a unique company name takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. If you find yourself looking at other brands for inspiration, you’re doing it wrong. You’ll end up copying what others are doing, as opposed to developing a brand-appropriate name that tells your target market something about you.
#2. Perform Your Due Diligence
After brainstorming some potential names, you need to perform your due diligence and make sure it’s original and available. The first check you need to conduct is a domain search. Use a domain search tool, and see if your URL is taken. If it is, this is a good sign that the name is already registered to another business. If it’s available, you’ll want to conduct some more thorough research.
The next step is to use the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This resource allows you to search for trademarks based on different words and names. If you don’t see any conflicts, you should be good to go. However, it may be necessary to hire an attorney to conduct an even more intensive search. The last thing you want is to get sued for infringement down the road.
#3. Avoid Strange Spellings
There’s a difference between standing out from the crowd and choosing a name that’s strange. For some reason, there’s a huge trend in the tech industry right now to invent words that end in “ify.” Not only are these terrible brand names, but they’ll soon be out of date. Imagine names like Smashify, Shoutify, and Lockify ten years from now. It’s hard to see these brand names succeeding. Strange spellings – or misspellings – are rarely good ideas.
#4. Keep the Logo and Colors In Mind
When developing a brand name, you need to keep things like logos and colors in mind. By thinking about visual branding during the brainstorming process, you can avoid pitfalls and issues that may arise down the road. This may not be a determining factor in your name choice, but it’s worth adding to your checklist.
#5. Don’t Use Geographic Terms
There are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking you don’t want to use geographic or regional terms in your brand name. From a trademarking perspective, they are hard to legally protect. From a business perspective, having a regional name can inhibit your ability to grow and expand in the future.
Don’t Rush the Process
When it comes to naming your startup, there’s definitely a sense of urgency. After all, it’s hard to be taken seriously if you don’t have a name. With that being said, you need to be as patient as possible. Rushing the naming process could leave you with a name that doesn’t accurately encapsulate your brand. It’s better to remain nameless for an extended period of time than it is to choose the wrong one. The former is an inconvenience, whereas the latter is a long-term mistake.
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