I mentioned in a post the other day a lengthy conversation I had with a young Canadian entrepreneur planning her startup business.
Of all the feedback I offered her on her concept, she seemed to have the most problem with my questioning her choice of business name. I think she and her partner came up with a name that almost works. It’s the usual mash of two unrelated words (similar to last week’s BlueCat Networks, I guess, although I would argue that the technology sector is more accustomed to these word-collision names than most industries).
The name she chose makes sense – but really, only once you know what the company does. The partners have an intricate explanation for the name, but the name doesn't help you understand the company better until after you know what it does.
It was the second time in two weeks that I've had this conversation with a startup entrepreneur. The other company is also hoping to become a prominent Internet brand using a made-up name that most people wouldn't understand or retain long.
Now it’s easy to say that most brands don't describe what they do. But keep in mind that Inco started life as International Nickel, and Heinz began as Anchor Pickle & Vinegar Works. Just maybe, resource-short startups have different branding needs than do established companies.
But in the end, it doesn't really matter whether someone understands your name. The question is, will clients remember it? And how will it sound when they tell their boss they want to place their next order with FrogBog, or whatever Frankenword you’ve chosen?
Remember, as a startup your biggest problem will likely be credibility.
Sure, all the good dot-com names are long gone. But keep looking for the right name. Using an obscure and complex Frankenword, or an in-joke only you and your partners understand, just builds barriers between you and your customers – not bridges.