10 Tips for Naming Your Startup Business

Startup Naming

After exhausting months of writing a business plan and conducting market research for your start-up business, it’s time to execute these plans, but one thing is missing a business name; after all, what’s a brand without a word? The truth is, finding the perfect name that sticks can be time-consuming and indeed challenging.

You won’t be wrong to equate your brand name to the mental trigger that makes prospective customers take a second look at your business. We believe it’s the core part of your start-up business. The right name can help you stand out from your competitors while also beaming the light on what your products and, or services are all about. But how do you go about it? Well, that’s what you are about to find out. In this article, we shall be discussing the ten tips for naming your start-up business. But first;

The Structures of Brand Names

Brand names are structured in multiple ways. These structures include:

  • Actual Words: examples of such brand names include Apple, Sharp, Amazon etc.
  • Alphanumerics: Examples of such brand names include 7up, Saks Fifth Avenue, and 7-Eleven, just to name a few
  • Compound Words: Examples are DreamWorks, Microsoft, HubSpot, MasterCard, etc.
  • Truncated Real Words: Examples of truncated actual words include Cisco, FedEx, etc.
  • Coined Words: Coined Words include Coca-Cola, Google, and Zappos.

Types of Brand Names

Most brands’ names fall into these five different categories. So to create a great brand name for yourself, you need to understand the types of brand names – this way, you’ll be able to assess what brand name suits your business.

Suggestive Names

Twitter - An example of suggestive name

Suggestive names are just as it sounds. It is similar to descriptive words though they are less clear about the products and services you offer. For instance, Buffer and Twitter have suggestive names. However, these two examples aren’t clear about the products and services that the brand behind it is offering. Another example is the Fitbit brand. The fact that it contains “Fit” shows that the products or services the company responsible for the name is offering include fitness products and services.

Descriptive Names

Unlike suggestive names, descriptive names are pretty straightforward. Names in this category describe the company’s products or services. Examples of descriptive names include Mike’s Surfboards or Jane’s Gadgets.

Names in this category work best when you wish to reach a group of audience that wants to know what your goods or services do or when these goods or services have a small marketing budget or a short life cycle.

However, they are tough to trademark, and the reason isn’t farfetched. Using common words is one of the reasons. So, if you plan to trademark your business name, you should ensure that the name isn’t descriptive.

Acronym & Initialisms

It’s just as it implies – While acronyms are words pronounced as words, Initialisms on the flip side are simply pronounced as their letters.

For most businesses, names based on acronyms and initialisms aren’t ideal because they tend to confuse their target audience. And that’s why you’ll be doing it if you opt for names that fall in this category. So, when is it ideal to use an acronym and initialisms? For one, when your business name is long, you can try out the acronym and initialisms.

Names Derived from Different Languages

Not all names are derived from the English language. Therefore, you must explore this option if your audience isn’t primarily English speakers. This means, for non-English speakers, you need a name that is native to that region. For example, Lamborghini, Prego, and Ferrari; are all names based on different languages. The exciting thing about these names is that even though they aren’t derived from English, they still appeal to English speakers.

Arbitrary and Fanciful Names

The last type of brand name on our list is arbitrary and fanciful names. They have a connection to the brand in any way. For example, Apple, Slack, and Virgin are all names that don’t depict what their brand is all about. They are just fanciful names that contain made-up words. Other examples include Kodak and Google.

One of the perks of using arbitrary and fanciful names is that they are easy to trademark due to their distinctive nature of the name. But on the other hand, they are unusual and often require more marketing support to help prospective consumers connect the name to the goods or services the company offers.

10 Tips for Naming Your Start-up Business

1. Keep it brief

The brand name you’ve chosen should roll off the tongue with ease. Keep it short. That’s the secret. Your consumers shouldn’t have to struggle to call your brand name. What’s the fun in having to take a deep breath midway through saying a brand name? Think about it – most brands that dominate the world today have short titles. Examples of these brands are Walmart, Facebook, Nike, and Banz.

According to a study conducted by Premier line, a UK-based insurance company, the average length of a company name in their region was 15 to 25 characters. However, that’s not all – did you know half of these brands fell within the range of the 17-to-24-character mark. Sure, these are longer than names like Facebook, Nike, or Apple; keep the name within the fields highlighted in this section, and you’ll be fine.

While at it, make sure the name is catchy. That’s the whole essence of keeping it short and straightforward. You don’t want a name that would leave your prospective consumers feeling bleh. The pride in knowing your employees feel happy when they tell others about the company they work with. So make sure it resonates with your audience and prospective consumers.

2. Do your research

Why do you need to do this? Thorough internet research will help you know if someone else is using that same name. More often than not, someone else is already using the name you just picked. But the good news is – that shouldn’t stop you from using that same name. However, it should give you a pause, and if you’ve got another name, you can opt for that instead.

3. Avoid Trends

Your company should outlive a particular trend. In essence, the name you opt for should evolve as trends evolve. How do you go about this? First, look out for specific trends and avoid them at all costs. For example, back in the late 90s, it was pretty trendy to use “.com” after your company during the dot com boom. Imagine having a name with the .com extension today? Back then, the .com extension depicts an internet business. But after the dot com bust, the extension depicts having no business model, which was why companies who previously had the .com dropped it after the dot com bubble burst.

4. It has to be easy to spell

Let’s paint a scenario to further understand what this means. Prospective consumers hear your ad on the radio and search for your brand name online but can’t seem to get it because they don’t know how it is spelled. Do you know the number of prospective customers you could lose with a complex brand name? Avoid that by sticking to names that are spelled exactly how they sound.

Don’t do anything weird, like using “Z” instead of “S.” Stick with names spelled precisely how they are and how they sound.

5. Check the domain name

So, are you ready to settle on a nice name? Next, use an online toon to see if the domain is available. I see brands make this mistake more often than not. A business settles on a name, but someone already has the domain name picked. So, instead of purchasing that particular name, they use a different extension such as .biz or .net.

You shouldn’t do that. Consumers are accustomed to associating .com with domains with established and credible businesses. So here’s what you should do – if your domain name is taken and you can’t purchase it, try to create a new name for your brand.

6. Be Careful with Geographic Names (Don’t be extremely specific)

Some businesses use their region as part of their brand name. That’s fine if you plan to only serve the people residing in the same region. Doing that might help you well. But on the flip side, a geographic name could disrupt your visibility later. A perfect example is Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining. At first, the term served its purpose because of the region where the business was situated. But when it was time to grow beyond the industry, they needed a new name, hence the birth of 3M.

3M Company Name Changed

As a start-up, you need to focus on specific, whether it’s a location, target market, or product. But that doesn’t mean you should depict that in your business name. Naming your business something peculiar can restrict your growth.

For example, let’s say you are creating a brand that focuses more on women’s shoes; naming your company “Anita Shoes” is terrible.

7. Ensure You Ask for Feedback

Of course, you can always come up with the final ideas and have the final say. The truth is, you don’t have to struggle alone, which is why you need a team or partners to help with the creation. To get a nice name, you can make it a group discussion. Start by writing your ideas and narrowing them down to five or ten words. Then reach out to your loved ones (family and friends). Have a feel of what they think about the different names you’ve shortlisted. If one name stands out based on the feedback you get, you should consider that name more than others. Don’t struggle alone – share the burden with others too.

8. ABN Look Up or Search the Secretary of State Records

In the United States, an equivalent action would be to search the secretary of state records. But in Australia, once you come up with a name, the next point of action would be to register the new business. You’ll probably form a corporation or an LLC. If you reside in the United States, search the secretary of state’s records to ensure that the name isn’t close to a registered business. Meanwhile, you would have to do an ABN lookup in Australia to avoid the same scenario.

If the name you opt for is too similar, the state may stop you from registering it. At this point, you should find a lawyer to help with the registration process.

9. Consider Your Logo

While brainstorming a name for your business, you should also consider your logo. Your brand name will forever be tied to all your marketing efforts. Did you know color schemes can positively or negatively impact sales? That’s because people process visuals faster than words and will remember a name if the logo is indeed memorable. For example, the golden arches on McDonald’s “M” will forever be unique and iconic.

McDonald's Logo Icon

So, how will your brand name translate to your logo? Will it be wishy-washy or recognizable? That’s up to you to decide.

10. Are you happy with the name?

Your brand name would mean nothing if it isn’t something you’re proud of or happy with. Remember, the name is something you will forever say, hear, and write. If you don’t like the name, don’t bother with it. Your business is your baby and should be treated as such. If you don’t give it a name you like or are proud of, you’ll regret it, which could disrupt your business’s growth.


At this juncture, you’re probably wondering: “it isn’t just a name?” the truth is, it isn’t just a name. If it was, you wouldn’t be here looking for tips to make it work. But, it’s more than you think. What you name your start-up business will directly or indirectly impact sales and will forever be your identity. So, don’t mess it up this first time.

That’s why we often recommend taking the time to ensure that you get it right the first time as opposed to trying to change your name later on.