Startups · Entrepreneurship

Any tips for coming up with an awesome startup name?

Ryan Braffman Writer

September 13th, 2016

Seems like all the great domains that had the company name I envisioned during the brainstorming process with my team are taken. I wonder if there is an easy way to come up with a name for which I will be able to also secure the domain, Facebook and Twitter page, etc. Thanks for your help!

Ryan Stemkoski I help businesses generate more leads.

September 14th, 2016

It is a challenge to come up with just the right name for any business or product. I will say it is a lot easier to name something for another person than it is to come up with a name you feel represents yourself or your product.  Our agency often works with start-ups to help walk through the naming process. I haven't encountered the magical unicorn naming tool that will help you arrive at the perfect name but I would suggest taking these elements into account when you think you have found a name that works.

1. Find something that feels right. I know this is subjective but I have encountered many business owners that hate their name but have invested a significant sum of money into building that brand. Put the time and effort into coming up with something that you like and feel good about. You will have to scream it from the mountains so make sure you like the sound of it on your lips.

2. Find something with a logical domain name. A good domain name is still extremely important. I don't believe it needs to be a .com. With all of the newTLDs, you can get creative and find something that will stand out. Regardless of the domain you choose, make sure it is easy for people to remember and type in. If you're having trouble finding a domain that is available remember there are tons and tons of great names that people have already registered either for a business that never started or a business that failed. You might be able to talk them into selling something great that they aren't planning to use even if the domain is registered. We have had great success approaching people about purchasing domains and have paid anywhere from $25-$10,000 for the right domain for a new product or service. 

3. Once you find a name and a domain combination that works, make sure you scour the Internet Archive and other back history checking tools to make sure the domain was not used for unethical activity in the past. I have encountered previously registered domains that were used as part of web spam networks or link farms. Starting with one of those could hinder your ability to rank in search. You want to find a domain name that is fresh with no history, or even better, one with a good solid reputable history you can build upon.

4. Make sure that nobody else in the marketplace is using the same name. With all of the new TLDs out there lots of duplicate business names are being created. This can cause trademark issues because the trademark generally goes to the person that used the name first in the market. I would suggest performing a number of Internet searches with different combinations of the name to see what comes up. If you have a great name but feel there might be a conflict with another business in the marketplace consult an attorney. 

5. Avoid names that are already fully or partially used by huge corporations, government entities, schools, and other large businesses in different industries.  As you're working to build your company and brand it is important that people can find you through search. If you choose a great name that is already extremely popular for another reason when people search it is likely the more popular entity will own the search results. You don't want to be in a situation where potential customers are trying to Google your name and you are unable to show as the first listing because the search engine is confused. As search engines have improved their ability to show local listings this has become a less important issue but one I believe should not be ignored. We have a client that chose the name  "Spalding" but they had both a large local business in their market that uses that name and several large national businesses including the sports equipment manufacturer. While our client is in a different market than either of these similarly named companies, when someone searches Spalding locally or nationally they were not the even on the first page of the search results.  It took us a lot of effort to help them resolve this problem. 

6. Make sure whatever name you choose is not trademarked. You can search the USPTO database for free. If there isn't an existing trademark for your name in the industry you've chosen, you have a potential candidate. If you decide to use this name, I would suggest trademarking it as soon as you have determined you would like to move forward with the domain. This process can be relatively quick and painless if your name does not have any conflicts. If it does, you will either have to prove that they're not true conflicts or find another name.  It is best to go through this process early when it is still easy to switch to an alternate name. 

I hope these elements help. If you're able to find a name that meets the above criteria you should be ready to get down to business. My final suggestion is not to let not having the right name hold you back from developing your business. I have seen far too many people get mired in trying to come up with the right name, become overwhelmed and never get their business off of the ground. Take time to figure out your business, your strategy, your competitive point of difference, and write a business plan. As you work through this process the right name may just come to you. 

Ken Carpenter Software Engineer at Arista Networks

September 13th, 2016

One site that has helped me in the past is https://namechk.com.

Give it a potential name and it will tell you which top level domains are available/taken (.com, .net, .io, .co, etc.), and will also tell you if the same username is available/taken on Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of other websites/social networks.


cwikla I build. You sell. Boom.

September 14th, 2016

Street you grew up on and your first pets name.  .com

Aldrin Alphonso Director - Future Wave Technologies.

September 14th, 2016

What is your business, the problem you trying to solve.

Basis that can help you with some names.

Cheers.

Davida Shensky We help small to medium size companies put together a strategy for success and hold you accountable to follow through

September 14th, 2016

what are the key words or buzz words that describe what you do

Sheeba Duleep Managing Partner

September 14th, 2016

Hi Ryan, I faced the same issue when we set up our IoT area. All the names we thought about, were already taken, including the ones I thought no one would have thought about :-) It made me realize that there are many like-minded souls in this world. :-)
I used https://www.whois.net/ to find that out. It took us months of effort, and finally we settled for wemakeiot.com.

Good luck with finding the right one.

Sheeba


Chris Gorges Managing Director, Infinia Group // Founder, Biddlist

September 14th, 2016

My firm does branding for startups, and naming is probably the hardest thing we do. Email me at chris at rocketure dot com and I'll send you some free resources / guides / ideas.

www.namemesh.com is good for finding cross-domain availability, *BUT* it is also extremely important to check the USPTO database. Click the link below, and go to "Search Trademarks" then "Basic Word Mark Search (New User)" - even if a name does NOT show up in this database, there is still a chance that it is already claimed under common law, and you risk a cease-and-desist if the owner feels encroached upon.

http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/search-trademark-database

Vinay Darp VP Service Delivery at Curologic Systems Pvt. Ltd.

September 14th, 2016

Run a $50 contest on this forum :). On serious note, share your vision with me, and I can send you my suggestions.

Cheers

Andrew Chapman Publishing Entrepreneur and Author

September 14th, 2016

I'm going to counter-argue and say you haven't tried hard enough. When I started my last venture a couple years ago, I thought the same thing. But after really letting my creative thinking take over, I ended up with more than 100 available, relevant, and non-ridiculous domain names... none of which were more than three words, nor used misspellings or numerals (both of which tend to create havoc in the long run). And these were *all* dot-com names... no .info or .crap or whatever. So, every time I hear this "I can't find a good domain name" complaint, I push back about whether you've truly pushed your creative muscles far enough. Case in point... I just now made up a name in five seconds, one name, and it's showing available... BlastBerryBubble.com. Easy to say, easy to remember, easy to spell. Of course, I'm not saying this is a good name for you (unless you make soft drinks); I'm only saying that many more domain names are available than people think. Try again! :-)