good names, portfolio, startup naming, testing & focus groups

Startup Naming Checklist

A good name has to be short bla bla bla. Not.




Hundreds of tools, principles, rules, tips, tricks and ‘how to’ articles are now available online preaching on how to fix up a good name for a startup. Yeeey. I would have loved this experience 8 years ago, when very little information on this subject was shared and I had to read whole books.

But you know what? All these helpers hardly work for anybody who’s not a naming specialist or even a person in love with words. If you’re not into cooking, the greatest recipe in the world won’t help you prepare a decent meal.

Here is the proof and more proof is available here.

Similarly”, thanks to Nancy Friedman, you can get closer to a very well documented analysis on the startup naming issue.

My secret intention is to help you find out if your startup has a powerful and money-saving name or you’ll have to think again and this time, explore the possibility of hiring a naming specialist to do the sexy nasty trusty job for you.

Manu, CEO at Thinslices has recently asked me if I can prepare a startup naming checklist in order to help his clients get a closer look at their names so as to see if there’s room for improvement. Here it is:


First thing

The good old and only purpose of a name is to differentiate you from the others. That is how people can refer to your brand in every possible way: see it, ask for it, talk about it, find it, remember it, recommend it and sing it in bed with their wives. So, practically, what you’re looking for in a name is the “hand wave” effect.

Keeping that in mind, here is a set of questions to which a good startup name would respond affirmatively.

  1. Is it remarkable? Put it in a list of these year’s startups and see if it’s something to stop and look at. And wonder.
  2. Is it courageous and unexpected in the field of activity you’re in? Of course Virgin, Apple, Blackberry, F.C.U.K., Yahoo! and TomTom are already taken but there is also a naming trend in every domain that you can avoid and revolt against.
  3. Is it attractive? Are people fascinated by it, do they feel anything when they hear/see/spell it? Ask a young kid to pronounce it. You’ll get instant proof.
  4. Is it non descriptive of what the product/service does? As you know, many changes and new opportunities appear in the development of a startup. People, interests, target audience and even the main idea. Facebook is a very good example here but also a very popular brand.
  5. Is it user-friendly? Ask a stranger, on the phone, to send an email to your company. See how many times you have to repeat or spell the address. Call him again after a week and see if he/she remembers your name.
  6. Is it extensible for a range of features and products? Is it easy for you to picture how your branded services or product collections will be called?
  7. Are you extremely proud of it? A good name would not only make your mouth smile when you talk about your business but also your heart. If you love your name just as much as you’re passionate about what you do, everybody will feel it and understand how determined you are.

Relevance, trademark availability, .com availability, integrity, energy, cultural aspects and length are details. They can all be conquered because everything is possible. As a startup entrepreneur, you know that very well.

A great name reinvents the wheel and makes a great coffee with it.


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