Standing out from the crowd: what’s in a name?

Yesterday, whilst drinking a well earned hot chocolate at Shoreditch Grind, I was debating the importance of naming a startup.

One of my old colleagues, Scott Voigt once told me about the bike-shed example, which I now know to be Parkinson’s law of triviality. It basically says that organisations spend a disproportionate amount of time on trivial issues (like figuring out the colour of the shed) because they are easier to grasp than more complex items (like the design of a nuclear power station).

Naming your company is an example of this.

There are however a few things to get right and a few to avoid.

First up?—?you need to be able to get the .com domain. Several people have told me that getting a .io or a .tv etc are all options because they have nicer names available but if you can get the .com it gives the startup a head start?—?it makes the startup feel bigger to the visitor. This is slightly less important if you are a B2B company but still preferable.

Next, it needs to be spelled phonetically?—?i.e. spelled the way it sounds. We seem to be drifting back to the period of Flickr and delicio.us where we have weirdly spelled company names and this is the easiest way to lose word of mouth traffic. It does not help you.

Clearly you need to make sure the name you choose doesn’t clash with the audience you are targeting. But..

Don’t get too hung up on the name itself?—?if you have a nice backstory as to how you came up with the name then great, if you don’t then don’t waste time inventing one.

Don’t worry about the name being something directly related to what you are creating. Too many founders and advisors get caught out with this one. What is important here, is a name that is memorable, catchy even. Something that has recall value. That way when someone mentions it to someone else, it is easily remembered when they get in front of a keyboard or phone to look it up.

There is nothing worse than a dull name?—?but building on a name around something that fits with the above will eventually lead you to a great name that has brand recognition.