10 ways to name a startup

Submitted by John Derry on Tue, 09/02/2014 - 16:49

Trying to find the best name for a tech startup company? These ideas will offer some direction and constructive advice on how to go about it.

1. Disemvowelment

Get the best of both worlds! By dropping a vowel from a word it becomes a unique name but retains some of the familiarity and meaning of the word it is derived from. e.g. flickr, tumblr, and scribd.

2. iTunes/Amazon

Band names, song, movie and book titles are often cleverly constructed and can provide inspiration for a business name. Click around in Apple and Amazon’s vast catalogues and see where it takes you.

3. Use a key feature

Zoom in on your key feature and then get creative! This is how the sales automation app “SalesForce”, exercise tracker “Runkeeper”, itinerary keeper “TripIt”, blog publisher “WordPress” and many other startups were named.

4. Get fresh

Funny and edgy names can be the most memorable so don’t stop yourself from going in this direction. Jucy Rentals, faqme.com, Spon Me frozen yoghurt and Cherry Pick dating are some eyebrow raising names.

5. Name generators

Can an algorithm match the magic of a human brain? Not yet, but if creativity is not what you want, an online name generator can give you some options. But probably a waste time if you’re serious about a clever name.

6. Dictionary/Thesaurus

Explore related words in an online dictionary to build a a list of potential root words. Don’t just look for literal and descriptive words, search for associated words to do with related feelings, objects, events, and phrases.

7. Prefix and suffix

Got a generic word but want a one-of-the-kind? Experiment with affixing a few letters or numbers to create a cool derivative (e.g. ‘Shopify’ and ‘Seat61’) with suffixes such as -ly, -io -ster, -ter, -ler, -ite, -it, or -to and prefixes like my-, our-, the-, all-, daily-, diy-, get-, or un-.

8. Picture it

An image search is another way to find concepts that can assist with a quest for a name. Pinterest, Google Images, Instagram and Flickr are OK but don’t ignore istockphoto for some great commercial concepts.

9. Typos

Spelling mistakes are a popular formula for successful naming. Think Reddit and Krispy Kreme.

10. Randomness

Make up or lookup a random word that has no meaning or relationship whatsoever to your purpose and just focus on making a great product. Well, it seemed to work for Google, Hulu, Skype, Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo!

11. Speech impediments

How would someone with a speech disorder say your startup name? A simple phonetic distortion could give you a rather cute sounding name!