How To Give Your Startup A SMART Name

A great idea needs a great name. Here is a checklist to help you pick the perfect name for your startup.
An awesome name won’t save a bad startup, but a great name can help push a good startup into super stardom. A great name can pave the road between you and your customers, making searching and communicating a breeze.
So how do you know if you’ve found a great name? According to Dharmesh Shah from the name is a keeper if it can pass the S.M.A.R.T. checklist. This doesn’t mean that you need to hire a brand expert for thousands of dollars; all you need to do is ask around.
Spending a few hours collecting feedback from friends, family and colleagues can save you the pain of finding out too late that you chose a dud for a name. Sending back all of your printed t-shirts, coffee mugs and business cards isn’t a fun task.
What does passing the S.M.A.R.T. checklist include?
According to Shah, a great startup name must be simple, memorable, available, repurposable and timeless. To find out if the name you have in mind can make the grade, take a look at the suggestions outlined below.  
You can consider your startup name as a simple name if it is:

  • quick to type in a browser
  • fits easily in a tweet
  • easy to spell

Examples, Ello, Etsy, Uber.
Your new business name doesn’t have to be as short as four letters long, but Shah recommends that it is fewer than 9 characters and easy to say clearly over the phone and in person.
For your new business name to be considered memorable it can’t sound like another existing business or be confused with similar sounding words – that rules out “Hoogle” and “Dacebook”.You want your potential clients to recall your business name without trouble so a unique or explanatory name is a safe way to go.
The only way to really find out if your name is memorable is to test it – ask anyone you can find what they think. After you have given your test subjects a few days, call or email them and see if they can remember the name you asked them about. If they can recall it easily then you might be onto something.
Checking the availability of your name is probably the first step you will need to take. It’s sad when you set your heart on a name and only to find out that a small business in Toronto owns the copyrights. It doesn’t hurt to check out social media usernames too, as social media should be included in your business strategy.  
Don’t forget to check on domain names too! Traditionally you would want the .com name before moving forward, which is still good business practice, but for shorter names it might be next to impossible to afford. If that is the case take a look a gTLD for a recognizable domain.
Be sure to register all the domains that could be associated with your brand. Brand protection is a major concern for business owners. It would be heartbreaking to work hard on a business only to find that an internet troll is using a domain including your brand name to slander you.
Note: Shah admits that ‘repurposable’ isn’t actually a word, but it fits the acronym well.
Businesses evolve and change over the years, and ultimately  what your startup did to get going in the first place isn’t what is going to keep it afloat. For this reason your new name needs to be able to fit a variety of roles.
Look at Google as an example; yes they still rock at being a search engine but the brand has exploded into dozens of different online services. This would have never worked the same if Google had chosen a name like ‘Easy Search’ for their company.
Remember the 1990s? What about the 1980s? Can you think about a trend that you wish you had bypassed? Flock of Seagulls anyone? What about Hammer pants? Don’t worry it happens, but hopefully not to the name you’ve chosen for your startup business.  
The reason for this, explains Shah, is “because when something is “’trendy’, chances are there are a hundred other startups all following that trend”. This will make it harder for your brand to establish itself and maintain relevancy in a few years from now.
A name for your startup business is a major investment. It is well worth your time and effort to be sure that it is not only S.M.A.R.T. but also the best name for your great idea and efforts as an entrepreneur.  

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