Choosing a great name for your startup is much trickier than most founders first believe. The best brand names wander into our subconscious, unnoticed. They assimilate smoothly into different parts of our lives and take on real meanings, whether you’re talking about jumping into an Uber, going on a Tinder date or Whatsapping a friend.

Still, there is more to a great name than its just being memorable. A great name needs to offer the right foundation for a company to build upon. It also has to be available!

Here are some steps that might help in naming your startup:

1. Start by knowing your audience.

Starting with a clear idea of exactly what message you want to send, and whomyou want your brand to resonate with will help you first choose a style (preeminent, playful, pragmatic, modern, intriguing, powerful) which will be the north star through the road to choosing a brand name.

For example, if you are selling consumer-based products, and your target consumers are millennials, or generations Y or Z, you will have a bit more flexibility to think outside the box, with intriguing names like Urban Decay or playful names like Squatty Potty. However, if you are a corporate company aiming for baby boomers, you’d be smart to choose something more classic, like Stone Eagle Advisors or Zenith Capital.

2. Focus on your brand, not business

Before brainstorming name ideas, write down some aspects that are unique to your brand. Many startups make the mistake of explaining their features or business in the name. This leads to boring and dull names. For example, if you write:

“We are opening a high-end seafood restaurant in Everett, Washington.”

Your name ideas will likely have these undertones:

  • High-end = classic name
  • Everett = local restaurant and location themes

This may – but likely will not – fit your vision.

If you write

“We are opening a unique, hip, seafood restaurant. The decor will be minimalist. The food will be top-notch, but the ambiance will be more casual.”

Your name ideas will likely have undertones that more accurately represent your Brand:

  • Unique, hip = fresh, unique, and modern name
  • Minimalist decor = straightforward name

3. Visualize the Key Ideas

The next step is to come up with the different ideas and images to convey in your name which are inherently linked to your brand. Instead of focusing on the descriptive element — i.e., what you sell — focus on expressing one or two other core concepts that are essential to your brand, culture and values.

For example, if you are a food-delivery startup, your ideas could convey images of healthy living, ethically sourced products or great customer service and quick delivery time.

4. Know the danger zones

Once you have your style, themes and purpose clear in your heads, it’s time to really start experimenting. But before trying out different names, you should know which areas to avoid. With so many trademarks out there, the freedom to use almost any particular English word is becoming slim. The common danger zones are:

  • Single English words
  • Power words — like force, united, omni, icon
  • Symbolic words – like bridge, spring, sage, rocket

But just because you can’t use one stand-alone word doesn’t mean you can’t combine these words into something original. Types of names that have been attached to powerful brands have included:

  • Transmutations — Zappos, Zumba
  • This and that — Haute and Bold, Crate & Barrel
  • Compounds — SnapChat, WordPress
  • Visual Story — Ice Mountain, Red Bull
  • Blends — Groupon, Instagram

While compounds and transmutations are great, you should say the words out loud to make sure they stay within the following three guidelines:

  • Is the name easy to say? It should roll off the tongue, rather than twist it.
  • Is the name easy to hear? Consumers should be able to hear your brand name, then quickly tap it into Google to find you.
  • Is the name easy to spell? Simple misspellings such as Flickr, Xero and Lyft are much easier to trademark, but if they are hard to spell, problems could result.

5. Harness the collective genius of Crowdsourcing!

Considering the more than 6.7 million trademark applications to date, and the fact that there are only 171,476 words in the English language, choosing a great new name which is awesome, and available, requires creativity.

At Squadhelp, we have built the world’s #1 naming community of over 75,000 creative people across the globe. By combining crowdsourcing, AI and gamification, we have not only made the naming process fun, we are now disrupting the traditional agency model.

Not only can you get hundreds of ideas from our naming community, we also help you test those ideas with your target audience to determine which names resonate the most with your customers. In addition, our unique naming process includes all critical validation aspects (e.g. URL availability, Linguistics Analysis and comprehensive Trademark screening).

We were recently recognized by Inc Magazine as one of the most innovative companies in the 2018 Inc 500 list.

For your naming inspiration, I am sharing some ideas that were created by our naming community.

If you want to see even more name ideas for your inspiration, feel free to explore over 18,000+ names created by our naming community.

Happy naming, and remember: When it comes to naming a brand, fortune favors the brave!

Source: Darpan Munjal, Founder, Squadhelp.com. A collaborative naming platform for startups.

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