Naming a Startup: The Definitive Guide [2019 Update]

Facebook, Uber and Nike are all really great names that keep on the customer brain really easily. Naming a business tends to be one of the most difficult decisions when starting. So go on reading to learn how to choose a cool, memorable and strong name!

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Choosing a bad startup name can lead to the failure of your company.

Some people say the name of a person indicates their personality and characteristics. This perfectly applies to the world of startups, where the name of a company transmits a determined image and culture. That’s why the election of the correct business name is an inevitable stage in the business development process.

Just remembering how stressful was for us to decide the name of Failory and how much time we lost trapped in a miserable list of startup names given by a pathetic brand name generator, make us look as irresponsible non-productive persons. However, there is no need for you to spend the same ridiculous amount of time we spent in naming our own company. Wait there! I am not saying all business name generators are bad. There are some of them, for example, The Startup Name Generator which people have claimed that are really useful.

You might already know that a powerful and cool company name can be the key to success in marketing and branding terms, so, to guide you through the naming process and to help you avoid spending thousands of hours of your precious time, trying ineffective business name generators and developing serious stress problems, we have built The Definitive Guide for Naming a Startup. Take a look at it.

Naming A Startup Guide

Step 1: Which is your Purpose?

If you haven’t already defined the purpose of your startup, you should start by spending a few minutes describing the ambition of your company and the promise to your consumer. May be these two common templates will prove useful to you:

We help A (Customer) do B (Problem) doing C (Solution)

For example: We help email marketers create their newsletter emails by giving them a fully responsive and easy email design tool.


Or maybe you like this formula (Commonly seen in tech startups):

[Famous Company] for/of [New Domain]

For example: Airbnb for supercars, or, Tinder for dogs.

In the following video, Jim Stengel explains the relationship between purpose and business and shows how this connection affects the growth of the company.



Step 2: What is your Buyer Persona?

Defining your buying persona helps you understand your customers, which is not only crucial to finding a cool startup name, but also needed when carrying out a content marketing strategy, an email newsletter campaign or a social media campaign. To do this, try writing down on a sheet the following characteristics of your ideal customer:

  • Background & Demographics:







  • Hobbies & Interests
  • Goals:

                    Short Term

                    Medium Term

                    Long Term

  • Daily Challenges
  • Common Objections & Biggest Fears
  • Marketing Messaging
  • Elevator Pitch


An example of this could be:

How To Name a Startup


There is no need to complete all of the above characteristics, but this template will guide you through this tedious part of the naming course. For future reference, the example template can be found here. If you want to be a PRO at this you can even define a negative persona, which are the people you don’t want to target.

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Step 3: Test the Buyer Persona

Try to find someone who has a similar biography and characteristics to the buyer persona and arrange a meeting. You may pay for their time or at least you should buy them a coffee. Another option can be a gift card from Amazon or Visa.

Finding interviewees sounds more challenging than it is.

One way to find them is by researching in your customer database. It is important at the moment of contacting them to make clear it is not a sales meeting! If not, the results will be completely different from what is hoped.

Another way to find interviewees is on third-party networks, like UpWork or Craigslist.

To start with, a good number of interviews per buyer persona is be 3 to 5. Once the meeting begins, and after the typical appreciation words, start asking the buyer persona questions related to the key points of the above template, such as:

  • What is your job role?
  • What is your title?
  • What are your daily challenges?
  • Do you have any social media?
  • What are your goals and objectives?

For an even more successful interview, a vital tip to take into account is to ask Why? Why do you think this? Why are this your goals? Why did you choose that career path?


Step 4: Brainstorming Keywords

On a paper (or Word Document) start brainstorming a few keywords that can be associated with your startup. Then, start playing with them. Make variations, transform them and unify two of them. It is recommended to stick to 2 syllables, as short startup names are more easily remembered. We only need to see some of the biggest company names worldwide to understand this:

  • Google
  • Apple
  • Sony
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

The union of two keywords can lead to an explicit or implicit name.

Explicit refers to a clearly expressed purpose of the company in its name. The perfect example is Facebook, which is conformed by the union of keyword Face + Book. Implicit refers to a name that, only by reading it, people can’t imagine what the company is about. A great example is Tesla. Furthermore, a really short name might be adorable but it may bring problems when buying a domain.

Furthermore, a really short name might result adorable but it may bring you problems at the moment of buying a domain.


Step 5: Naming Agency (OPTIONAL)

This step is not necessary, but if you don’t trust in your naming abilities, it's always a great option to hire a naming agency.

Wait there! Nothing of business name generators. A naming team is a group of branding experts which helps companies achieve more tangible connections with the world.

To create a successful name, these agencies usually pay attention to the following concepts:

  • No names that can limit the business growth
  • No hard-to spell names
  • Keep names short and sweet
  • Name with universal appeal

If you hire an agency, no matter how much time they dedicated to selecting your startup name, if you don’t feel happy with the final solution, say it. The name will last for a long time and you will have to live with it, so don’t accept a brand you don’t like.


Step 6: Shortlisting your Names

Once you have a list of names that you like, it’s time to choose your favorite one. To do this you can score your names on 4 different criteria. This is easily explained with a picture:

Startup Name Generator
  • Intuitive refers to the question: Is the name related to our business?
  • Visual refers to the question: How nice does the name look?
  • Sound refers to the question: Does the name sound good?
  • Emotional Value refers to the question: What do people think when they hear the name?


Furthermore, when selecting your favorite one, be sure to look at linguistics. Some people build a startup, choose a name and when their startup becomes an international company they discover the name means something offensive or prohibited in another country. To check if your startup name doesn’t have any linguistic issues we recommend you this tool

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Step 7: Legal Validation

We fully recommend you to hire a professional to guide you through the legal validation process. If you are worried because you think the name of your company may be used in another industry, you can do a trademark search by checking out all patents. There are thousands of guides on Google on how to do a trademark research. However, if you hire a professional, more in-depth research will be carried out.


Step 8: Ask your Audience, Family, and Friends

Name validation coming from your audience is essential as they won’t have any problems giving you critical feedback. An excellent way to collect feedback from your customers is with an online survey.

Testing the name with your friends and family is risky. But if you still prefer to do it this way, make sure they don’t have any problem telling you what their true feelings are about the name, and being honest if they don’t like it.

A recommended method when getting feedback from your family is to ask a few questions of the name and for each one give 5 possible answers:

  • Awesome
  • Nice
  • Not Bad
  • Ugly
  • Horrible


Step 9: Purchase the Domain and Register the Trademark

You have reached the last step. Your startup is on the right track.

It’s time to buy the domain. Visit your favorite domain name registrar and, if available, buy the .com, .net, .org, and any other domain you like. Maybe you can also buy not so common domain names such as .xyz or .co.

After this, register your company in all social media. If possible, register using the exact same name that you have chosen for your company.

And last but certainly not least, register the trademark for the company name. Some businesses can do this by filing an online application in only a few minutes and without the help of a lawyer. This can cost you between $250 and $350 and you will only need to fill in the information required. But in other cases you will need the help of a professional.


So you probably now know how to successfully name your startup. If you want to keep improving this skill, you should take a look at the following infographic on the best tips to call your startup.

Naming a Startup Infographic

Finding the perfect name for your business can be as horrifying as a child nightmare. We hope that with this guide you are able to find a cool, memorable and strong brand name. You may find interesting this article on the firsts steps to build an startup if you are just starting one. If, instead, you already have a startup, we recommend you to read this article on how to grow your business.

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