Choose the right name from the start to avoid having to rename or rebrand down the road.
Red Caffeine President and CEO Kathy Steele Contributes to Forbes Article
You’ve looked over your numbers, and you think you’re ready to get your new service off the ground. You know the product is solid, but there’s a catch: The project name is just a placeholder.
Picking the right name is crucial: It creates an image of the brand in the mind of potential customers, it shares the idea of what the company or service is about, and it’s the most important keyword for internet searches. Selecting the wrong name for a company or product can set a product back by months, if not destroy it all together. Using a name that’s already trademarked means extra expenses for rebranding, ranging from development and research costs to expenses for new websites and business cards. And using a name that’s overly descriptive, or contains too many common words, makes it difficult to remember or to search for.
Below, nine Forbes Agency Council members talk about what factors they weigh when naming a new company, service or product in order to avoid problems and draw clients.
1. Identify Your Brand Identity, Then Pick A Name
Picking a name for your startup is a crucial decision. It will set the tone for the way people perceive your company. So I say work backward, decide what your brand’s identity (including target audience, culture and mission) will be. Once you have that squared away, you’re ready to begin brainstorming your name. This way, your name will directly and accurately reflect your company’s values. – Arya Bina, Kobe Digital
2. Create Something Short And Unique
Forget descriptive names. Short, unique names are easier to remember, better for social media and SEO winners. Twitter limits character count and most descriptive names will already be taken as handles, but a new and unusual name will be available. Descriptive names also bury you in Google searches, where they’ll already be your competitors’ keywords. So get weird — or at least a little funky. – Diana Wolff, LRG Marketing
3. Keep It Simple
Simplicity reigns in the world of marketing, and this couldn’t be more true in regards to naming a company, service or product. Company names can be creative but should deliver a short and to-the-point message about your brand. As for products and services, you can exercise some creativity, but keep the product or service purpose in mind, so new customers unfamiliar with your brand aren’t confused. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
4. Check For Trademark Issues
I’m that guy mentioning legal stuff but that’s because trademarks matter. Two of our clients in the past year have had to change their company name or their product name because of an impending lawsuit which could have been easily avoided by either trademarking their name upon foundation or researching up front. Do the due diligence, and take the extra step with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It’s worth it. – Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
5. Make It Easy To Read And Say
Naming is by far the most critical but challenging part of branding. The limited availability of legally viable names and URLs adds to the complexity. What I find missed most is the easy ability to pronounce the name. It’s a simple step: A brand or product name should be easily read and said. We always make sure to test this with people who were not involved in the name-storming process. – Kathy Steele, Red Caffeine Marketing + Technology
6. Consider Longevity And Mission
When naming a new company, it’s important to consider longevity: Just how long will your brand name resonate with your targeted audience? As your brand grows and time progresses, that company name may be less and less familiar or associative to your public. Choose a name that accurately reflects not only the service or product your business offers but the company the culture you seek to project. – Nick Powills, No Limit Agency
7. Avoid SEO Issues
A common mistake in developing a name is thinking only about how it relates to your industry. Research the name with tools like SEMRush or Moz to determine how popular the name is for both organic and paid searches. Also, don’t forget to check social hashtags with BuzzSumo. In both cases, if your name is highly competitive with a company dominating SEO or social media, consider another name. – Todd Earwood, MoneyPath Marketing
8. Consider A Non-Dictionary Word
Consider creating a new word that’s not in the dictionary. This will then be a name that you’ll own outright and will help you highlight your differentiation. In addition, it will serve you well in securing a domain name and social media account URLs. Make sure the name is catchy so that it’s memorable. Examples of this approach include Accenture, YouTube, Zillow, Hipmunk and LinkedIn. – Tom Shapiro, Stratabeat
9. Tie It To Your Story
We communicate in stories. It’s how effective marketing and communication connects to our target audience. When developing the name of a new company, one of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve observed is “how did you get your name?” If you answer, “it sounds cool” or “it explains what we do,” in my opinion, you missed a big opportunity to become more memorable to your target audience. – Chris Carter, Rep Interactive