I’ve been working with a business startup that has had some interesting problems in researching names. Here are 5 bits of wisdom from those conversations:
1) Your name has to be spell-able.
Easily. By nearly everyone. If your name isn’t easily spelled by at least 4/5 people in your target market, you are going to loose a lot of search volume, and you’ll have to either buy domains of common mis-spellings, or you’ll have to accept the fact that you’ll be confusing a large part of your target market when they are looking for you specifically. Common words often work very well as most people do know how to spell them- which is good.
2) Your name has to be unique. Mc Donald’s is legendary for asking people with the all too common name of Mc Donald to re-name their business. And even if the company is in the right, McDonalds is more than willing to outspend you enough legally to win in most cases. So here’s a rule of thumb. If you know of a company with a similar, yet alone the same name, assume that isn’t a good name. I suppose exceptions to companies that are mutually geographically bound are relevant. If you are not, consider the case of the WWF vs the WWF http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWE#World_Wrestling_Federation_Entertainment.2C_Inc._.281999-2002.29
Granted, it’s two groups involving wild animals, though it’s a case study as how two very different groups will eventually come to conflict over a name. Why put yourself in that position.
Also consider, even if you aren’t concerned about the copyright concerns, consider that you’ll always want to come up first if someone Googles the name of your company.
3) You can get the URL
Consider Nissan.com. Should take you to a car company.
Click it. It Doesn’t. Not good.
4) Length - Used to matter, and I think it still does, though “WTFInc,” will always loose in memorability to… generally anything else.
It should say something about what your company does, stands for and wants to be known for. Don’t shorten it whenever possible, as we have a much harder time remembering acronyms than words. If your company’s name isn’t memorable, you have to forgive anyone that forgets it.
And that doesn’t bode well for referrals.
Or direct traffic
Or closing close clients- who chooses “what was the name of that other company again”
5) Given a choice, strongly consider a name with personality vs. a generic one. A name with personality is far easier to remember, to be substantial, to convey at least part of what you hope to accomplish as you create your brand identity. Does your name communicate at least part of the message you want your prospects to get from your brand?