Company naming

by Scott Austin March 01, 2012

I was at a networking event the other day.  I was watching a presentation with an entrepreneur.  He had a compelling idea for his product and was working on bringing it to life.  But he did not have a name for his company nor his product.  My instincts told me that he really needed to name either his company or his product.  After the event, I thought more about my belief that he needed a name before talking publicly.  I still stand by that belief.  Here's some of the reasons why. Internal
  • For you (if you are a one person company) or for your team, putting a name down gives your idea an identity.  It's now real.  It almost like you can now reach out and touch it.
  • It keeps you focused.  You're no longer brainstorming random ideas.  You're executing on building your now named product/company.
External
  • Putting a name behind something gives it street cred.  Everyone has ideas.  But by naming yours, it makes it more real.  You no longer have to use the phrase that you came up with to explain the idea like "the best new way to use social media to allow people everywhere to give local input into what the weather actually is right now".  You can just say "WeatherNow".
  • Once you have a name, you can start having a web presence.  With your domain, you can easily (and cheaply) get a website up and get a more professional email domain than @gmail.com or (far worse) @cox.net.
Naming can be a challenging process.  I spent a lot of time coming up with the name for my company, HelpScore.  Here's a couple of rules for the company name that I used:
  • It must be easy to say.
  • Shorter is better
  • People must be able to easily spell it correctly.  This rule is broken by many companies these days.
  • The .com domain must be available (whether freely available or available for purchase).
  • If the name is going to be descriptive, it must speak to your value proposition or differentiation.
For my company's name, I did not want to go the route of mashing two words together.  I created a spreadsheet of all of the different ideas that I had.  I shortlisted it the ones that I liked.  Then I checked for domain availability.  This unfortunately removes many of the good ones.  Most decent .com domains are taken.  Many are just parkedand you can purchase them.  But the costs can be quite high.  I actually narrowed down to a great 6 letter domain that was available for only $350.  I put down the money to escrow for the purchase and waited for the domain to be moved over to me.  Unfortunately, the transaction fell through because the domain had already been sold but the escrow company did not know it. So I was sent back to the drawing board.  For round 2, I tried the mashing of two words method.  I came up with hundreds (literally) of combinations.  Many, of course, were unavailable .com domains.  But surprisingly, HelpScore was available.  It wasn't even parked.  So for only $10, I got the domain.
Scott Austin
Scott Austin