How to Name a Startup
A step-by-step guide to coming up with a creative, memorable name for a startup.
Review your mission statement.
You've taken the time to write a strong business plan for your business, so use your mission statement to hone in on the brand and image you want to portray. Come up with a list of keywords that best portrays the core of your company's mission.
Think about your customers.
Consider your customers' demographics, backgrounds, hobbies, and what they do on a daily basis. Make a list of keywords that describe the key themes that you find.
Find inspiration in other sources.
Skim through dictionaries and thesauruses, go through social media, look into movie and book titles, and use online name generators to build a visual list of keywords.
Play with your list of keywords.
There are many ways to combine keywords to create mashups. You can use real words, misspell your keywords, create compound names, use phrases or blends, or use abstract words. Also try using a play on words, being metaphorical, using visuals, using foreign words or words with Latin, Greek, or Anglo origins, being poetic, or combining random words with an ampersand.
Add suffixes or prefixes.
You can create entirely new words by adding prefixes, such as a-, be-, co-, de-, ex-, in-, un-, se-, and re-, or by adding suffixes such as -y, -ar, -o, -or, -sy, -out, -ed, -us, -oo, -ty, -ery, -er, -is, -a, -d, -ly, and -ory.
Swap out letters or take some out.
You can make it easier to find available domain names by swapping out letters or taking some out of your keyword. For example, the company Flickr simply removed a vowel. This is a great idea as constructed names are generally easier to trademark.
Be careful to avoid names that are difficult to spell. If customers are continuously misspelling your name, it will be too difficult for them to find your company online.
Keep some naming philosophies in mind.
Don't restrict your future growth.
Even though your startup may be focused on something specific at present, in the future, you may want to expand. Avoid names that focus on a specific aspect or direction of your company, whether it's the product, location, or target market. Instead, aim for an allusion to create a more compelling name, but don't choose something that is random or obscure. Keep it relevant.
Consider the global market.
Avoid limiting yourself to a particular location by not using a specific town, city, or country in your business name. Instead, consider using a street name if you want to anchor your business geographically.
Be aware of what the name you pick means in different languages and whether it's easy to pronounce in other languages.
Keep it short.
Long names are harder to remember, so simplicity is key. Try to limit your name to 5 to 10 characters, such as with companies like Apple, Nike, Nikon, and RayBan.
Try to avoid going higher than 25 characters.
Avoid common names and aim instead for originality. You will want your name to be recognizable on its own without any confusion or association with other companies. Psychologically speaking, people also tend to look for companies that stand out from the crowd.
Consider humanizing yourself.
Research has shown that companies are often more successful when they have simple and human-sounding names. This is because you can make a deeper connection with your customers when you have a likable first-name brand. For example, Casper is the name of a mattress company in New York.
Keep your logo in mind.
Your brand name and logo will be tied to your marketing efforts, so consider how your brand name will translate to your logo. Consider choosing a name that is easily applied in graphic design and that will complement your logo.
Consider a name that has meaning.
An ideal business name is one that conveys something meaningful and positive related to your business. For example, Nike is the Greek goddess of victory, so when the company chose that name, they were relating their business to the idea of winning.
Make sure the name you choose doesn't have a negative connotation in a foreign language.
Test out your ideas.
Shortlist your names.
Create a shortlist of your top names by ranking them from 1 to 5 according to intuitive, visual, sound, and emotional value. Cull out names with poor scores.
Say it out loud.
While the name may look good on paper, it could be difficult to pronounce. Say your chosen names out loud and test how they sound. Make sure they won't be confused with other words or sound like something inappropriate.
Check for availability.
Use an online tool to check that your chosen name has an available domain name. If someone has already purchased the .com domain name, don't settle for another extension (like .org) of the same name. If the domain name is taken, remove it from your list.
Also, search social media profiles to see which social media handles (@[name]) are being used. You will want a name that is available across all social media platforms to avoid confusion.
Search the Secretary of State's records.
To avoid problems with registering your business, check the Secretary of State records to ensure that your chosen name is available and not too close to a previously registered business.
Perform a trademark search.
You should also perform a trademark search on uspto.gov to check the availability of your name. Register your trademark to prevent other companies from using it.
Test your final selections.
Use family and friends, as well as social media contacts and your target audience, to test out your final name selections and gather feedback. Use a quick survey to see which names people prefer.
Choose your name.
Once you have your final selection from the feedback you received, choose a name that both you and your customers like. Buy the domain name and trademark your name to ensure no one else can use it.
How do I name my startup?
- Start brainstorming keywords.
- Play with and cull your list of keywords.
- Keep naming philosophies in mind.
- Test out your ideas.
- Check for name availability.
Where can I find a list of startups?
- Google My Business.
- Killer Startups.
- My Startup Tool.
- Product Hunt.
What are good startup company names?
- Snowflake, a computing company.
- Dosist, a company that makes cannabis dose pens.
- Samsara, a tech company.
- DoorDash, a food delivery app.
- Brex, a company that makes corporate credit cards for other startups.
- Good American, a fashion line.
- Robinhood, a financial app.
Where can I find inspiration for a startup name?
- Use a name generator such as NameSnack.
- Skim through dictionaries and thesauruses.
- Go through social media.
- Look into movie and book titles.
- Look at your competitors.
What are some good startup business name ideas?
- Flight Verge.
- My Quick Charm.
- Thirsty Gargoyle.
What are the best startup names?
- Display Silk.
- The Sorting Fix.
What are some cool startup business names?
- Flight Verge.
- The Pears Jar.
What are some creative startup business names?
- The Local Plan.
- Thirsty Gargoyle.