So, you’ve decided to start a company. Whether you have a brilliant idea for a piece of tech no one has thought of before (not even Elon Musk) or want to craft a brand marketed exclusively to fellow geeks, you likely have a long to-do list to tackle before your company goes live.
Mixed among “find investors” and “design a logo” on that list is likely “choose a name”. While you may be tempted to pop a few keywords into a name generating tool and check that item off your list, there are some concrete reasons why not putting effort into finding the perfect name may harm your business before it takes off. Essentially, settling on a mediocre name will negatively affect your bottom line.
Ignore that online name generator, and set aside some time to brainstorm and find the perfect name to serve as the figurehead for your company. To help you out, the naming geeks at Squadhelp have compiled a naming pyramid, which will help you find a name that represents your business and value proposition. As well, we’ve highlighted the different categories of names, which you can use to guide your naming efforts.
Startup Naming Philosophy: The Naming Pyramid
Your name stands for every aspect of your business. The Squadhelp naming pyramid will help you refine every aspect of your new startup into one comprehensive name.
Level 1 – Business Strategy: At the base of the Naming Pyramid is your business strategy, including the details of how your business will operate the organization, brand the company, and attract talent. While these are essential parts of your business, they don’t need to be explicitly stated in your name.
Level 2 – Brand: Your brand is represented in your story, mission, font, and logo. At this level of communication, you combine all the details from Level 1 into these few items will be recognized by your potential customers.
Level 3 – Value Proposition: This is the short overview of why you exist and why people should care, further refined from Levels 1 and 2. It’s your elevator pitch - essentially, a concise explanation that tells clients what you do.
Level 4 – Name: Your whole business is distilled into your brand, your brand into your elevator pitch, and at the top of the pyramid is your name, a single word or phrase that supports your positioning. Your name will be used more than any other branding piece on this pyramid.
Startup Name Selection: Categories of Names
The naming pyramid should give you a clear idea of how your name can stand for your entire business. From there, you may be wondering, how do you choose a name for your new startup? During Squadhelp’s naming genome project, we found that most names fall into one of five categories. Find a category that appeals to you, and use it to focus your brainstorming efforts. If you need some help brainstorming ideas you can use a tool like this company name generator to get name ideas and some inspiration for naming your company.
Category 1: Emotional Names
For companies that aren’t afraid to evoke emotion, emotional names can be an excellent way to connect and make a brand statement. This type of names is built on powerful, emotive words like excite, lust, joy, or promise. If you want consumers immediately to feel a connection to your business, then emotional names are the way to go.
Emotional names often blend with other naming categories. For example, names like WorkJoy contain a level of descriptiveness. Promise Hill and Waverlust may evoke emotions and intrigue potential customers.
Category 2: Clever Names
Clever names can be used in any industry, as long as they align with your branding. When used correctly, they can be very powerful and appealing because they can be descriptive, while still being memorable to your target audience. However, only use a clever name if your business and branding can be as witty as the name is.
Clever names are fun to create and fun to use. They can incorporate puns (Whey to Go), plays on words (Love Bites), witty phrases (Once Upon a Robot), silly imagery (Wiggle Bug), and alliteration (Tiny Trends). Look to tech companies like InkyBee who successfully created a playful and fun brand around their clever name.
Category 3: Experiential Names
Experiential names work great if your startup has a very specific value proposition, as an experiential names convey your brand experience right in the name. Experiential names make it clear to users exactly what to expect from your startup.
Dollar Shave Club is a great example of this type of name - you know exactly what you’re getting when you sign up for the service. Other examples from the Squadhelp community include Get Pet Ready (a pet guide), DataMap (data consulting company), and 8 Weeks to Amazing (a fitness transformation program).
Category 4: Intriguing Names
Intriguing names are ideal for companies that don’t want to be confined to a specific product line or industry with their name or want to entice customers who first hear their name. As a startup, having an intriguing name can be helpful if you decide to change direction in the future.
Intriguing names come in many forms. Abstract names, like Voya, are short, memorable, and appealing. Names like Pangea and Mosaic are more metaphorical and don’t make it immediately clear what the company does. Rinsio and Rinsio are built from descriptive words, making these names slightly experiential.
Category 5: Classic Names
Classic names are commonly used in well-established or traditional industries, like manufacturing, banking, and traditional marketing. If your new business falls into one of these categories, choosing a classic name will help customers easily recognize your industry. Consumers are also likely to view brands with classic names as sophisticated or high-class.
There are typically three reasons to use a classic name: to exude prestige, to fit in your industry, or to align with a high price point. Examples of classic names developed by the Squadhelp Creative Community include Medway, Ellie Grey, Lydia & Park, and Stone Eagle Advisors.
Classic Names also have their opposite form, outlier names, or names that are built to stand out. Think Law Group is an excellent example of a name designed to stand far out from an industry that was filled with initials and last names.
How to Choose Your Startup’s Name
Brainstorming a name can seem daunting at first, but preparation will help to make it productive and even fun. Come prepared with a value proposition, and choose a few of your favorite name categories above to help focus and direct the brainstorm towards that perfect, memorable, productive name.