How to Pick the Best Name for your Startup

If you’re in the midst of launching a startup, picking a solid, recognizable company name is crucial. Perhaps you have a name picked out or maybe you are still in the brainstorming phase. Wherever you find yourself in the naming process, take a step back and get some feedback.

Here are a few ways that will help you test your name and receive some constructive criticism.

Create a Deck

When sifting through all of your name and logo ideas, put it on paper (or PowerPoint). Pretend you are preparing a slide deck that you will present to prospective investors. Take your time and craft name and logo ideas that best fit your startup’s mission and purpose. You want people to be able to see your startup as more than a word—you want them to see it as a brand.

Test out black and white backgrounds, different fonts, and color schemes. Once you have a solid deck with potential options, you will be ready to ask for advice and feedback from your partners and mentors.

Test a Focus Group

Get a group of diverse people together to run a focus group. Your group should call on a broad range of people with varying gender, race, ethnicity, age, socio-economic standing, education, religion … (the list goes on). You want a variety of opinions—ideally from people who could be potential customers.

Let the group take a look at your deck and rate their initial impression of each name and logo option. After the first round, go back and give a little backstory to each name and logo. Ask them all to rate their impressions again. Once complete, tally the responses to see which name and logo option was rated highest.

Conduct Market Research

Once you have narrowed your search down to two or three options, it’s time to conduct market research. First, go to your secretary of state’s website to check if the name is already in use. This first step is likely to eliminate an option or two for you—since there’s often competition for many names.

Next, spread your search out a bit more and focus on regional and national markets. Do a Google search to see what pops-up when you search your potential new name. If all looks good, you will need to run your name through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website. This search will let you know if your name is already in use or if you are in the clear.  Also, check to see if the domain name for your business name is available.

When all is said and done, you may have found yourself a name for your startup. Only time will tell if people understand and take hold of your name, but there’s no harm in trying and knowing you took all the right steps.

Tweet @StarterNoise to tell us the most important step you took when naming your startup.

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