The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Brandable Name for your Startup

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Brandable Name for your Startup

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2015. A lot of things have changed in the startup world since, so we decided to update the post accordingly.

When choosing a name for their baby, people take numerous factors into consideration. Most of them would try to put themselves in their child’s shoes and go with a name they will like when they grow up. Some would rather go with an internationally recognized name that is easy to pronounce and memorize. On the other hand, there are also those parents keeping an eye out for the latest naming trends. They seem to be competing to choose the rarest (and the most pretentious) names that would set their bundle of joy apart from other kids. A name everyone likes and yet no one else would use. Just think of a heated debate about Jay Z and Beyoncé’s attempts to trademark their daughter’s name we’ve been reading about for years.

Still, there is one rule that applies to all these examples – this is one of the most important decisions you need to make. Your child will grow into the name you choose and identify with it for the rest of their life.

I believe you see where this is going. Right- today we’re going to talk about selecting a perfect name for your baby business.

A name everyone likes.

A name that will help you grow your idea into a flourishing and recognizable brand.

A name that will establish you as a leader in your niche and help you differentiate yourself from a sea of similar companies.

And, in today’s booming startup ecosystem, nothing seems to be more important than that.

Namely, studies show that 77% of customers make purchases based on a brand name. Moreover, 90% of them make purchasing decisions subconsciously, choosing products by brand names that evoke positive emotions.

For example, when you cut your finger, you’ll look for a Band-Aid. If you have a headache, you’ll ask someone for an Aspirin. Most of us don’t say ‘tablet’- we say iPad. Even though there are dozens of similar products out there, all these items have become so popular that they now represent a whole class of products. Most importantly, they stand for user-friendliness, trustworthiness, and top quality.

Obviously, a company name is one of the essential brand elements and therefore needs to be a strategic choice that follows specific rules of the startup market.

brand name

Simpler is Better

In today’s overly competitive online sphere, where there are hundreds of products similar to yours thrown in your consumers’ faces, it is important to stand out. When choosing their business name, startups need to be more specific. This means that the era of bizarre online nomenclature is finally over. Ridiculous and confusing business names like Thoof, Fairtilizer, Ipipi.com are slowly falling into oblivion and startups are turning to actual words that are clear, concise and easily memorable.

Studies show that 77% of customers make purchases based on a brand name. Moreover, 90% of them make purchasing decisions subconsciously, choosing products by brand names that evoke positive emotion.

We’ve been writing about successful startups a lot. One of them is Ecois.me, selling home energy monitors that tell you how much energy you use and how much money you spend this way. What we can conclude from this example is that this name is not only brief and catchy, but it also offers a clear association of what their brand and product stand for. Most importantly, it brings a hint of simplicity to the table. After all, this is exactly what modern consumers expect of businesses- offering simple and easily understandable solutions that fit perfectly into our hectic everyday lives.

brand name domain simple

Choose your Domain Name Carefully

I have recently stumbled upon an article by Joel Gascoigne, CEO and founder at Buffer, in which he points out that a domain name is irrelevant to the branding process. He even gives a list of top companies that started with domain names different from their company names, including Dropbox (getdropbox.com) and Facebook (thefacebook.com).

Still, this makes me wonder – if a domain name doesn’t matter, then why has each of the companies from the list later switched to the domain that matches their company name? This makes Gascoigne arguments a matter of debate.

Having the same brand and domain name is actually one of the simplest and safest solutions, given the fact that your brand name is how your target audience remembers you. And, since the majority of your website traffic will come from search engines and navigational search, to be precise, it’s important to make it easy for them to find you.

Now, we all know that a perfect domain name needs to be easily brandable, relevant to your niche, and simple to remember. We also know that exact match phrases and keyword stuffing in your domain name are frowned upon by Google and that it may get you penalized. Still, apart from these basic tips on choosing your domain name, you should also pay attention to the following:

It should drive relevant traffic to your site

Simply put, not all traffic to your site is equally important. You need to attract those people interested in your products/services and able to complete the desired action. To do so, you need to make your domain name comprehensive. Just by seeing your name or URL, your target audience should be able to figure out what your site is about. A prime example of such a domain name is Mom.me, an online parenting community, or Player.me, a platform connecting gamers worldwide. If you’re not sure how to build your startup’s website, check out this blog post.

Promote your business using your personal name

When I say Rand Fishkin, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably Moz. The same goes for Danny Sullivan and Search Engine Land. Joe Pulizzi and Content Marketing Institute. Steve Jobs and Apple. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

So, how do we know about all those people? The answer is simple – they’ve invested years in building a strong personal brand.

Today’s startup marketplace is overcrowded and, in order to survive, you need to be creative when choosing a perfect name for your startup.

One of the most effective ways to achieve this is to build a personal website and choose a personal domain name. In this case, one of the most powerful combos is the FirstNameLastName.ME formula, since it tells your target audience who you really are.

Apart from boosting your visibility and helping people find you easily, your personal site is an amazing place for you to share your both personal and professional achievements. This way, you will establish yourself as an authority in your niche and humanize your brand. Check out lazar.me or evanthompson.me to see how experts do it.

brand name domain

Unleash your Creativity

Now that you know what (not) to do when choosing your brand and domain name, it’s time to move on to the creative process of choosing your startup name itself. Some would say that generic words are the safest and most viable option. After all, famous conglomerates, such as Apple or Amazon have succeeded in creating powerful brands by using that approach.

Still, if you’ve ever watched the Silicon Valley series, then you probably know that generic names like Pied Piper don’t work well for startups. Today’s startup marketplace is overcrowded and, in order to survive, you need to be creative.

Here are a few awesome practices that will help you create a perfect name for your brand:

  • Compound words – join two words together, such as in placecard.me
  • Make a portmanteau – combine sounds and letters of two words, such as in Pinterest (pin+interest)
  • Add prefixes and suffixes, like in videofy.me
  • Misspell the word on purpose, such as bodi.me
  • Use abbreviations, such as in mssg.me

brand name

Back to You

Today, it is obscurity that makes many startups fail. In order to grow your startup into a respected business, you need to invest a great deal of time and effort in building a strong and recognizable brand. You must learn how to position your startup among competition. And, to do so, you need to start with choosing a perfect name for it.

Here at Domain.me, we’re proud that many startups have recognized the potential of having a .ME domain, some of which we have mentioned above. Remember, choosing an effective domain name is a fundamental aspect of your branding strategy and we’re here to help you take it to the next level.

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