Naming a new business can be a daunting task. We spent weeks of daily deliberation before settling on the name 'Brandsworth', and over 30 proposals were considered and rejected for all kinds of different reasons. Sometimes you can overthink it and come up with a name that ticks all the right boxes, but is awkward to read or pronounce. At the other end of the spectrum, you might not think about it enough and end up with something generic that fails to help your brand stand out. If you're in the process of naming your startup, here are the four most crucial elements that you'll want to consider:
The business name should always be meaningful and relevant to what the business actually does, but without being too literal. The name 'EasyJet', for example, tells you everything you need to know about what that business does and what it stands for (cheap and convenient air travel). Something important to remember is that the name must be meaningful to the business, not the business founder. You might feel moved to honour the memory of your dead cat by naming your vehicle rental startup after her, but that isn't going to help the customer understand your business or engage with the brand.
The business name should be both distinctive and original. Today that's becoming an extremely difficult task, but it's not impossible and can still be achieved with enough time, thought and research. That said, don't sacrifice meaning and clarity just for the sake of having a completely original name. You still need the name to be easy to read and pronounce, and it still needs to effectively communicate the essence of the business. It's not the end of the world if another business in another country or sector has a slightly similar name to yours.
This is another consideration that needs to be balanced against the need to have a meaningful name, and is one of the reasons why a name that's very literal and descriptive isn't a good idea. You can't necessarily be sure what your business will be doing in 10 years time; you may have developed so many additional services that the business' original purpose is just a small part of what you do, or you may have gradually moved into a more profitable sector. If your name is too obviously tied to a single, specific activity, then the risk of it becoming unfit for purpose is high. You may also want to consider how the name might be used in a modular fashion, to fit different divisions of the company or different product ranges. Think of the way that Google prefaces all of their services with the company name - that wouldn't have been possible if they'd developed a name based solely on their original search engine service.
Any business with serious ambitions needs to give some thought to their intellectual property. Your business name, as well as your logo and the brand in general, are 'intangible assets' - they have no physical presence, but they still hold value. This is often referred to as brand equity. There are all kinds of reasons why protecting your intellectual property is important (a subject for a future post), and the first step in doing that is to come up with a name that you can trademark. Conveniently, the Intellectual Property Office has a pretty robust service that allows you to search for existing trademarks online. Interestingly, you may be able to register a name that's similar, or even the same as an existing trademark, provided they're registered in different 'classes' (different categories of business). These days, protectability also means ensuring that a relevant domain name is also available.
If you're still having trouble coming up with an effective name that works for your business, you could consider taking advantage of our Startup Identity Package - the service includes development of a range of name options that will get you off to the strongest possible start.