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6 great tips for naming your startup and finding a good domain name

Editor’s Note: This post has been created in collaboration and with financial support from InstantDomains. If you’re also interested in partnering with us, just reach out.

Choosing the right name for your startup is so important for many reasons. When naming and branding efforts are successful, you’ll benefit from massive payoff in terms of recognition. In fact, 77% of people refer to a particular item by the respective brand name – Crock-Pot, Chapstick, Kleenex, Sharpie, and Tupperware are such vastly recognizable names that they’ve come to represent an entire range of products.

So, what does it take to make your startup name this popular and powerful?

There are several things to consider when determining your company’s name. Relevance, brevity, and catchiness are probably three of the biggest essentials.

If you’re not certain how to get started with naming your business, here are a few of the steps to follow in the pursuit of inspiration.

Stay Away from Convoluted Names and Phrases

Hard to spell and hard to pronounce words may seem somewhat sophisticated but they’re far from a good choice for branding purposes.

Just think about it – some of the most memorable brand names out there are short and sweet – Apple, Facebook, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Intel, Cisco, Pepsi, Pampers, Nescafe, Gucci, to name a few.

A good name is easy to say and easy to spell. This is particularly important for companies that want to make their businesses findable online (and who wouldn’t want to do that?).

Make It Relevant and Catchy

Even if you go for a completely made-up word or a non-existent variation of an actual word, you should pursue industry relevance and catchiness.

Brand names often provoke specific associations because of what they sound like. Keep this fact in mind when considering the right title for your startup.

SaleSmarts is an excellent example of a company title that accomplishes both goals. It’s catchy and it’s also incredibly relevant for the field that the business operates in – sales training and consulting services.

SnapCrowd is another cool example. Can you guess exactly what the company does? If your guess is a photography-focused social network, you’re 100 percent correct.

There are so many other excellent examples that bring both catchiness and relevance to the table – Burger King, Hotmail, Sharp, Composey, Groupon, etc.

Think of Your Online Presence

If your startup isn’t properly represented online, it’s as if your company doesn’t exist.

A business that is yet to select the right brand name should definitely keep online presence and search engine friendliness in mind. In fact, you can start your research the other way around.

A tool like InstantDomains.com allows you to input your idea and instantly check the domain availability. You can also find premium names for sale and useful alternatives, in case the name is already taken. Let’s say you’ll launch a startup that creates innovative, vegan nail polishes. By entering Veggie Nails in the InstantDomains search, you’ll see if the .com and all other TLDs are available or registered.

If it is, you’ll get modifications and alternative suggestions based on your original search query. One of the variations offered here is Veggie Nails Allure. It’s cool, it sounds super feminine and it’s 100 percent available. Thus, if you begin doing the domain name research first, you can actually fine-tune the original title concept.

Say It Out Loud

On paper, the business name chosen for your startup could be the coolest thing ever.

When you say the word or phrase out loud, however, you may reach a completely different conclusion.

Make sure that the word is easy to say and that it doesn’t sound like something you don’t want to have associated with your brand.

In fact, some of the most popular brands out there are guilty of not doing this check.

Here’s a list of popular brands you’ve probably been saying wrong. If you think you know how to say Nutella, Lidl and Adidas, think again.

Generating confusion isn’t a good thing for a startup that’s building itself as a brand. Thus, keep the name choice straightforward and recognizable for the respective audience you’re targeting.

Conduct a Trademark Search

While looking into legal stuff isn’t the most creative aspect of naming your business, this is one of the essentials you have to go through if you want to avoid legal trouble in the future.

Regardless of your location and the direct competition you’re competing against, there are certain words and phrases you cannot include in your title.

Things can get a bit confusing here because some exceptions do exist and in these instances, you’ll be free to use somebody else’s trademark in association with your business. The rules and requirements, however, vary from one country to the other (and even on state-level if you live in a particular part of the US).

For best results, do talk to an attorney about registering a specific brand name. Later on, you may also consider trademarking the phrase in order to protect your brand identity.

Make Sure That the Name Represents Your Business

This is the title your startup business will operate under during every single day of the company’s existence.

Thus, one of the final essentials you’ll have to go through is making sure you’re personally happy with the name selected.

A good startup name represents your business and everything it stands for. It’s a true reflection of the core values and beliefs that make the particular concept special. It can be difficult to pack a word or a phrase with so much meaning. Still, the title has to be representative of the spirit of the brand – youthful, innovative, sophisticated, environment-friendly, etc.

Don’t be afraid to tweak the concept if it doesn’t meet all of your criteria. Work on it until you feel personally satisfied and happy. Getting feedback from others is always great to see if you’re on the right track. At the same time, you shouldn’t settle for something that you don’t fully believe in.

Choosing your startup name can be a fun process but you may also experience a degree of frustration during the brainstorming session. Slow down, take a breath and let your creativity flow. It’s ok if you don’t like the original ideas you come up with. These can always be modified, fine-tuned or scrapped altogether to pursue something better.

Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr is the "Editor in Chief" of EU-Startups.com and started the blog in October 2010. He is excited about Europe's future, passionate about new business ideas and lives in Barcelona (Spain).

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