Reason to Read:
This book is an essential guide to naming your new startup, indie hacker project, or product.
So if you don’t want to hinder your new effort before it even really started by choosing a bad name, this read is for you.
Summary & Key Insights:
Let’s start with the ground rules:
Use these two frameworks to find a name that propels your business forward…or at least saves you from settling on one that sucks.
SMILE: The 5 Qualities of a Super-Sticky Name
S: Suggestive – evokes something about your brand
M: Memorable – makes an association with the familiar
I: Imagery – aids memory through evocative visuals
E: Emotional – moves people
SCRATCH: The 7 Deal Breaker
S: Spelling challenged – looks like a typo
C: Copycat – resembles competitors’ names
R: Restrictive – limits future growth
A: Annoying – seems forced, frustrates customers
T: Tame – feels flat, descriptive, uninspired
C: Curse of knowledge – speaks only to insiders
H: Hard to pronounce – confuses and distances customers
Now let’s dive a bit deeper:
Hard to spell, pronounce or understand.
If you need to help someone spell, pronounce or understand your name, you are essentially apologizing for it which devalues your brand.
Hard to Pronounce
Difficult = Disadvantage
Moreover, there should only be one way to pronounce it.
Hijacking another company name seems lazy, could confuse customers, and opens up the threat of trademark infringement.
Copycat Trends to avoid:
- _______ly or .ly
- Any fruit (Apple copycat)
Looking into the future is hard, so the name should not restrict future growth.
Avoid overused suffixes:
Curse of Knowledge
A name should not only speak to insiders so that all customers are able to grasp your name and not only savvy experts.
Case against CamelCasing
It is easier to read Camel Casing, not CamelCasing so the former should be used.
…I should really have read that book before founding ValueBell😅
Ok, now that we set the ground rules: Let’s find out how to find your startups name
Create a Creative Brief as foundational work
That info come in handy for other marketing projects as well
Answer the following questions briefly:
Goal – What do you want to accomplish?
In a nutshell – Sum it up in a sentence
Brand positioning – How do you want your brand to be positioned in the marketplace?
Target Audience – Who are the customers you want to reach?
Competition – List your competitors to know what you are up against and to help you steer clear of similar names, which could pose trademark conflicts.
Desired Brand Experiences – The best names evoke a positive brand experience that makes a strong emotional connection
Brand personality – The 5 to 10 adjectives that best describe the tone and personality of your brand. (This exercise is much easier to do if you think of your brand as a person.)
Words to explore – List some words you may want to have in your new name
Words to avoid – List any words you would not want to have in your new name.
Themes/Ideas to explore – List any areas you may want to explore.
Themes/Ideas to avoid – Don’t even think of going here.
Name Style Likes and Dislikes – List 5 brand names in your industry you collectively like the style of (and why).
→After you complete the creative brief, you and your team will have all the information you need to start brainstorming ideas.
Brainstorming – How to be an Idea Machine
Remember to have your creative brief handy and get inspired & lead by it.
The Right Way to Brainstorm: The ideal number of participants for brainstorming is just one, you!
- Open Your Mind: While you look up words., phrases, images turn things around, and don’t be afraid of going off the rails.
- Write Down Every Idea: Jot down all your name ideas, even those that don’t feel exactly right.
Now write down at least a dozen words related to the brand and use https://www.thesaurus.com/ to get even more words out of those which you just wrote down.
Another source: Book Titles → Unlike businesses and products that can claim ownership of their names using trademark law, you can not trademark a book title. Search your word ideas on Amazon and get inspired.
Next, use the SMILE & SCRATCH tests on your ideas to start sorting some out and try how the name might be used in a sentence.
Once you settle on the final name, make sure to protect it by registering the trademark.
Domain Names: Once you found a name, you get to hunt down the right domain name
Strategy if the domain is taken:
What not to do with domain names:
- If your domain name isn’t spelled the way it’s pronounced you will regret it
- no uncommon XYZ country codes like ‘.it’ (Italy)
Bonus Section: Should you change your existing brand name?
- You can refresh your entire brand at the same time
- You will save time (and face) by not having to explain or apologize for your current difficult name
- You will have a legitimate reason to get in touch with your customers and tell them about your new name
- You probably have many more years of business ahead of you than behind you
- You have thousands of future customers who don’t know you by your current name and will only know the future name
- You’ve had the name for years and are emotionally attached to it
- You find it difficult to get everyone in the company on board
- You may hurt the feeling of the person who came up with it
- You can’t justify the expense to redesign new materials
- You have to notify customers of your new email address