There are so many diffferent opinions out there on naming, and more than one reason why certain companies choose the name they do. Sometimes it comes down to budget, sometimes it’s a certain meaning to the founder that no one else understands, and sometimes it’s about following the herd and following a similar naming convention.
Martin Zwilling wrote an article on Entrepreneur that looks at 8 naming mistakes that investors hate to see. Mr. Zwilling is a start up mentor and angel investor so he is looking at naming through the prism of investing in many small, unknown, start ups.
Zwilling discusses things that we have always advised companies on, such as make sure the name has no international meaning that may be negative. You may not be planning on selling in Latin America for example, but make sure your company name does not have a meaning in Spanish that embarrasses you. He also talks about making sure you can get the social media handles for your name. I think this can be especially different if you are following the other rules that Zwilling has laid out. You are not going to get a Twitter handle with very common first word/very common second word.
He also delves into an area that is very popular with start ups and brandable domain investors alike. The “Made Up Pronounceable”
2. Tricky spellings send customers to competitors.
Today, everyone expects to find you online, and competitors quickly learn to route all misspellings of your business name to their sites. Use conventional spelling, or phonetically consistent spellings, rather than the cute variation that implies a double ententre and amuses all your friends.
3. Nonsense phrases and non-words are tough to brand.
These may be easy to trademark, but there are few plans strong enough, or companies with enough money, to make Google and Xerox recognized brands. Most startups don’t have the resources, and should be more humble in starting with a name that customers will recognize.
Number 8 on the list will ruffle a few feathers on the pro new gtld side, Mr. Zwilling recommends to avoid the new extensions.
8. Skip the new wave of domain name suffixes.
Even though the standard .com or country suffix can now be replaced by virtually any word, including .bank, .sport, or .coke, I don’t recommend it yet for startups. While these may sound attractive in defining your company name, they still don’t have full recognition by most customer segments. At best, they should be reserved as alternates, with website redirects to forestall competitors.
In all cases, I recommend that you spend some time building a short list of three to five names that satisfy your objectives, but avoid the shortcomings above, and try them out on potential customers, peers and advisors. Feedback from friends and family is the least valuable, since they have the same biases that you do.
Read the full article on Entrepreneur