The Startup Name Game: Part II

January 26, 2006

As it turns out, there’s been some interest from folks I know in the startup community regarding the naming process.

As a follow-up to the first article on the topic, I’d like to add the following summarization:

The primary purpose of a name is to make things easy for your primary “audience” (which in most cases is your customer base).  Make it easy to remember the name, make it easy to find you based on your name and make it easy for customers to talk about you with others and pass along a referral.

An important point I didn’t get a chance to make in the first article:

There are a lot of good reasons to name your company with a “made up” and distinctive name.  For example, my second software startup was named “Captivo” (which loosely tied back to the Latin root “to captivate”).  This was an empty vessel name as it didn’t really describe the product or the company.

Here are some good reasons to use a made up word for a startup name:

  1. Easier to get a trademark
  2. Domain names are generally easier to find
  3. Internet searches for the name will result in more relevant.  The noise to signal ratio for search results is much lower than if you had commonly used words in your company name (like “Green Frog Consulting”).

I generally keep a pool of such made up company names at hand as there seems to be an ongoing need for such names with companies that I’m starting, advising or otherwise involved in.  Its generally easier to keep these ideas flowing when you’re not under the gun and desperate to come up with a name.


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