3 Tips for Developing the Perfect Business Name

August 12, 2017

5:00 pm

Brand language gives a context to new technology, making it seem more understandable and more “cool.” However, figuring out the right brand name is far easier said than done, and often tech firms are guilty of being too technical with branding. They ignore the human angle.

No matter how helpful your product will be to users, if they never find it, they’ll never buy or use it. Many tech firms fall short due to overly complex, yawn-inducing business names. Here are three factors to bear in mind when naming your technology business.

Your Business Name Must Be Accessible

According to Cantor and Nozell, striking the right balance between familiarity and ‘newness’ is key. Firms looking for a name shouldn’t use words which are too niche. Instead, tech companies should look for names which an audience will be able to intuitively match to your tech product or service.

Novanym is an agency that specializes in online branding. They state that for technology business names to be successful “innovation and efficiency is everything.” Your brand identity is crucial and should be creative but also communicate who you are in an instant.

Business names can and should be invented words rather than existing ones. In fact, they are often unique and therefore more successful when they are. But that can be easier said than done for anyone who isn’t an expert in branding. So how should you go about naming your business?

Invented names can be portmanteaus (think Microsoft or Wikipedia), compound words (such as Facebook or WordPress) or names that take a more metaphorical take on their business. For example, the name for virtual reality (VR) agency Magic Leap paints the picture of a journey taken into the future. The name is catchy and easily grasped by those without an insider knowledge of the VR industry.

A Business Name Shouldn’t Be Too Descriptive

“Verbal branding superhero” The Name Inspector states that finding a preexisting word that is close to what you do is often fraught with difficulty because: “such names can’t be generically descriptive because then they wouldn’t be protectable trademarks, so they usually work through metaphor or metonymy.”

Although many tech companies choose something too elaborate and lose their audience’s attention, being too straight down the middle and overly descriptive may also be bad. Would Youtube have enjoyed the same success if it had been named TheFreeOnlineVideoLibraryTube?

This doesn’t mean your brand name can’t be a real word, but it can make the process harder. Amazon is such as successful name because it paints a picture of size. However, what it does not do is specifically describe the company’s product or sector.

Unfortunately, finding names that strike the right balance can be difficult. There are ways you can get around this without making your name too dull and unimaginative. Despite what you were told repeatedly at school there are advantages to misspelled names — think SoonR or Topix. FYI, acronyms that are usually shortened are even duller versions of very dull descriptive phrases and ought to be avoided. Yes, a few, like AOL, have gone on to be very successful, but most are instantly forgettable.

The Online Business Name Is Just as Important

A huge part of any business’s brand name, not least in the tech industry, is the website. Being overly clever with your domain name can have adverse effects on your online visibility. Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos once stated that nothing about their business model could not be copied over time, saying:

“A lot of [Amazon’s success] comes down to the brand name. Brand names are more important online than they are in the physical world.”

There is a growing number of domain extension alternatives to .com that are aimed specifically at tech firms. In fact, there is a growing list of tech top level domain extensions including, to name just a few, .tech, .ME, .technology, .buzz .click, .digital, and even .ninja.

Some even take smart-arsery to the next level and domain hack — like “del.icio.us,” which is not a foodie website but a social bookmarking web service. Although establishing a niche domain may sound like a clever way to promote your business name and website, doing so may be evidence of bad business sense and can reduce the authority and visibility of your brand online.

Read more about branding your business here at TechCo

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Simon Davies is a London based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues and solutions.

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