Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How To Name Your Company

Over on ThinkVitamin, implausibly young and bright Toronto entrepreneur Michael McDerment, founder of web-based invoice service FreshBooks.com, offers his tips for finding the right name for your product or business. He’s been down this road a few times already, so he has learned a lot and has some great advice.

“As the online marketplace becomes increasingly cluttered,” he says. “it is more important than ever to be memorable and to stand out. The name of your company is a critical factor in this.”

Here’s the gist of his process:

Five characteristics of a good name:

  1. Easy to remember
  2. Easy to spell and requires no explanation
  3. Describes your business category
  4. Describes your benefit
  5. Describes your difference

Four more characteristics McDerment likes:

  1. It has to be one or two syllables long - no more
  2. Each syllable starts with a strong consonant (B, C, D, G, K, P, Q, T)
  3. It’s fun to say (”…that just rolls off the tongue”)
  4. You should be able to buy the dot-com version of your name.

How to get started:
1. Establish a ‘Naming Team.’ Expect the process to take eight to ten sessions of one hour each.
2. Get the tools you need (thesaurus, dictionary, spreadsheet, etc.)
3. Identify a ’secretary’ to keep everything organized.
4. Conduct structured brainstorming.

Best book to prepare with: “Positioning: the Battle for Your Mind ” by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

Finding a name is one of the toughest jobs in business, because it's a relentlessly practical consideration that requires creativity, imagination, vision, customer insight, patience and dsicipline. Mike's post is must reading. For the full story, click here.

PS: FYI, I was on the team that renamed Small Business Magazine as PROFIT Magazine back in the 1990s. It took us forever, with lots of false starts and focus groups. Ironically, long after we switched to PROFIT, I ran across the original business plan for the magazine. I was astonished to discover that the name PROFIT was also the first choice of the team that founded the magazine a decade earlier.


George Torok said...

Makes sense to me. Too bad the law firms don't get it.

George Torok

Anonymous said...

Great post as usual! Too many people in the Web 2.0 community underestimate the need to really develop a good name.

I've come up with a few names over the years for start-up ideas. I did so largely on my own but have recieved some pretty good responses (ironically I was also just missed winning the contest to rename Andersen Consulting as Accenture!)...Here they are:

eJuventate ('e' for electronic + rejuvenate): web app consulting company

Renesi (renissance + information): web-based research service

Sensidea (sensational ideas): developing people's technology ideas to products

BuzzSpots (Ads that create a buzz): a new way to advertise and monetize online video

Congrats on two years!

Jaafer Haidar