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HomeBusinessHow to Name a Start-up Company

How to Name a Start-up Company

Naming a new business can be an overwhelming and exhausting experience. There is a fine line between genius and insanity and it’s easy to become trapped in gibberish when seeking out a stand out company name. To add some much-needed clarity to the process, business mentor and owner of Citipeak Events Nick Johnson has offered his expert advice to help you choose the perfect name for your venture.

A bad company name can doom a project before it’s even got off the ground, which is something entrepreneur and business owner Nick Johnson is all too aware of.  As a mentor to young business owners, Johnson has helped launch a number of startup projects over the years and is always surprised by how many people treat a company name as a bit of an afterthought. “The majority of bad company names are the result of poor planning,” states Johnson. “A great name will establish your marketplace presence, promote what you do, and create a memorable impression. Therefore it requires just as much time and effort as developing the overall business plan.”

“One reason why naming a new business is tough is because a business name serves so many functions,” warns Nick Johnson. “A lot of entrepreneurs try to overcome this challenge by being too clever; coming up with quirky spellings or jumbling words together etc. Whilst this has worked for brands such as Starbucks and Groupon, there is no guarantee it will work for you.”

Trying to be too clever is indeed dangerous territory. Creating a portmanteau (blending two words together) for example, may seem like a great idea as it allows you to utilise the meaning of two key words. However, when two unconnected words are forced together these meanings can get lost in translation and result in a name which is just plain confusing. Instead, Johnson suggests taking things back to basics and consider the origins of your business venture. “Keep it simple; think about what it is you want your business to do, and what is going to set you apart from your competitors. Write a list of keywords and disregard any that are not directly related to your business. You’ll be surprised how easy the process gets once you’ve rid yourself of all the mental clutter.”

And the most important step? Check your name’s availability! Conduct a free trademark search at IPO.gov or on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website and search through domain names to ensure your name is unique to you. “Choosing a name too similar to a competitor’s, or that has been used before by a business in the past means you inherit their reputation, good and bad,’ sums up Johnson. “Make sure you stand out for good reason.”

Nick Johnson’s Top Tips for finding the perfect business name

  1. Brain StormCompile a list of 4 or 5 key words that relate to or describe your business as a starting point.
  1. Be Sensible – Want to expand in the future? Then it’s best to stay away from location based names. Be sure to avoid any spellings which could be at risk of being typed out incorrectly and always remember, the more obscure a name, the more you will need to invest in marketing!
  1. Be Inventive – Although grouping random, meaningless words together is a big no no, there is no harm in translating your keywords into other languages or looking at their alternative meanings in order to spark up your creativity.


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