What’s in a Name? Startups: How To Name Your Business

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Name tagWhy did we choose the name We Rock Your Web for our website? We went back and forth for a long time between this name and many more creative possibilities (Wild Web Tamer anyone? Or Wild Web Wizard?

Should I Use a Creative or Straightforward Name?

The problem with the more creative names is that in the midst of the domain name market bubble we are experiencing (and yes, I do think it’s a bubble, the domain names currently still available in the web industry offer slim pickin’s at best. But after considering who our audience is, we decided we had to make a choice between an ultra creative name and one that is as straightforward as it gets. Initially we opted for the latter, but that’s also when our business name was Contract Web Development, Inc., and we were a web development company. As an Internet Marketing company, we have evolved, and our name is now Cover Story Media, Inc., while the name of this brand (our tech brand) is We Rock Your Web, leaning more towards the creative side.

Creative Name – Pros and Cons

The advantages to a creative name are:

  • It’s catchy and can peak people’s interest when they first hear it.
  • It can be easy to remember (as long as it’s not too wacky).
  • Both of the above support branding power.

However, there are some disadvantages as well:

  • It may be more difficult to discern from the creative name what the business is about (ie. Web Catcher or Web Spinner – are they about the world wide web or about spiders and webs?).
  • For branding power to be successful you need to have a large budget capable of promoting the brand.
  • The way search engines have evolved, keywords in the domain name are less important than they used to be.

Straightforward Name – Pros and Cons

Here are some advantages of a straightforward name:

  • It speaks directly to what your business is and does.
  • Since it’s direct and simple it can also be easy to remember.
  • It won’t be confused with other names or functions.
  • It doesn’t require a large budget to promote.
  • If the name is a keyphrase with high search popularity it can lead to type-in traffic (keywords and visitors type your name directly into their browser’s address bar), as well as high search rankings for that particular phrase, especially if you are engaged in local SEO efforts.

The disadvantages to a straightforward name:

  • The lack of creativity may bore some.
  • Your name may be more difficult to remember in the long run because of its generic properties.
  • High-powered branded names will be more recognizable than yours.

The bottom line

From my experience working with companies that have names ranging from the ultra-creative (how about I Just Picked a Boogie Now What) to ultra straightforward (Roofing Materials, Inc.), both can be very successful in the long run. People have asked me if it’s a good idea to start out with a straightforward name and later change it to a creative one as branding budgets expand. My answer would be that this is usually not necessary, and the cost of rebranding your name may well outweigh the benefits reaped from the new, more creative name. Once people get to know you and your company the name will play less of a role. It’s especially important in grabbing first-time customers. It’s then up to you, not your business name, to turn them into repeat customers.

What Business Names Are You Considering?

Want some feedback on potential business names? Feel free to post them below and I’ll give you my two cents, for what it’s worth. Also post any questions or comments you may have. Important: if you have not secured the corresponding domain name(s) for your business name(s), please do so before commenting below.

Alex bring a series of in-depth articles on search marketing and content management systems as well as troubleshooting tips to We Rock Your Web's collection. He is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs, Bella and Lily.

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