We regularly get involved in the process of Naming when a startup approaches us for consultancy, and it always brings to mind the carpenter’s stock phrase of measure twice, cut once. Once a business is up and running, marketing itself well and starts to become known to its users or customers, renaming is a costly business so choosing something with longevity is worth trying. With that in mind, I’d thought I’d share some of the thoughts I think are useful to keep in mind as you begin to search for a name.
Whatever your business, it’s best to buy a domain name or names which closely match it. Tie-ing the two together gives more trust and making sure the right domain is available is important. It’s less important than it was to search engines that a domain name contains the keywords a business oriented around. This means that managing to get the name comfortableshoes.com is now much less useful in terms of being found when a customer types comfortable shoes into Google. and recent updates to Google’s algorithm suggests the trend will continue.
To stand out, it’s important to be as creative as possible with language. Brainstorm words around your business, think of analogy and metaphor that might relevant and write everything down. Get together which as many people as you can to do this and give it plenty of time. Think about how words can be changed or adapted while still suggesting their original meaning.
I always keep a good domain name search page handy when going through a naming exercise. Ideally, choose a domain name provider that will show you the availability of a wide range of top level domains – .co, .love or .architect and many more might be perfect for your business. Many people will urge you get the .com domain if you possibly can, and I’d support that, but at the same time, if the .com is taken by a very much un-related business and your business isn’t too traditional, it may not matter. .com could even feel too vanilla for some businesses as time goes on.
Perhaps also consider being a little creative with the top level domain – perhaps your dating site could be called lookingfor.love or your nursery weloveto.play. It could help make the domain more memorable as well as open a few more possible names.
It’s very easy for a domain name to become a constraint and realising that your business is likely to develop in ways you never thought of as important. My approach here is to encourage clients to find a relevant name but a broad one, or failing that something abstract which lends itself well. Imagine if Google had been called WebSearch or your social enterprise of DivorcedDads starts incorporating same sex marriages from both genders, and so on. A degree of abstraction is always worth trying to achieve – even the most traditional business tend to move beyond their initial offering.
Always search for similar names and domains on the web and do a healthy check agains Company’s House for any similarly named companies in a similar field. .GOV.UK’s current advice is:
Your name can’t be exactly the same as another registered company’s name – search the Companies House register to see if a name has been taken.
Your registered company or LLP name can’t be similar to (‘too like’ or ‘same as’) another registered name.
Keep in mind that just because a domain doesn’t yet have a web page attached to it, it could be there’s a fantastic new business called something similar about to go live to dampen your launch.
Finally, once you have some possibilities, try to get as much feedback as you can on several options, ideally from people who fall into the demographic groups which of your perceived customers. The key, here, is not just to ask which name they prefer, but to choose the values most important to your organisation and ask where the name fits in with those values. Does the name inspire trust? Does it suggest modernity.. and so on. It’s important you like your name – you may have to live with it for a long time – but making sure it appeals as widely as possible to your customers matters more.