Coming up with a name for your startup is difficult when you consider that this is something you will need to live with for a very long time, especially if you're successful which is the goal of course. Many rush into naming their company without considering how much it matters both when you're starting out and over the longer term.
I don't believe there is a silver bullet in naming your company and you don't need to spend weeks or thousands of dollars to come up with one but there are a few attributes that you should focus on when naming your company. These include making sure the name is distinct, meaningful, and memorable.
Picking a name that's distinct is crucial for many reasons but legally you are not allowed to select a name that is similar to others in your industry. You also want to make sure that the name you select is not used by a lot of other companies in a lot of different industries as that will clearly impact where it comes up in a search. You don't want to be one of a hundred "Acme whatever" that comes up when you search.
Being different is just part of it though, a name that is distinct will stand out and be remembered more easily by your audience which will help you with all of your marketing efforts going forward. You need to stand out from the crowd with everything you do and your name is the best place to start.
While some will disagree with me, I also think the name should be meaningful and explain what you do. I will grant you that there are some notable exceptions, like Google and Amazon, where the name initially gives you no indication of their business. But, I'll counter with Apple who in its early days was Apple Computers. The word "Computer" was only removed in 2007 when it was a well-known brand and the addition had actually become restrictive and misleading as it was into many other lines of business.
And this is what I mean, if your name includes what business you are in then it will be more meaningful to your audience and you will not need to waste valuable words explaining what you do each time. But don't make the name too restrictive in case you want to expand into other businesses or markets in the future. Renaming your company may be the only thing that's more difficult than picking a name in the first place.
The hardest attribute I mentioned above is to make your name memorable. It's easy with a quick search to see if you name is distinct and if you agree with making your name memorable then figuring out what business you are in should be relatively straightforward too. The issue with a picking a memorable name is that it's subjective so it's difficult to judge if your name is memorable or not.
One test is to show it to a few people (if they are in your industry that's even better) and get their feedback but grow some thick skin here as everyone will have an opinion. But even more important is to sleep on your name ideas for a few days or weeks if you have time. If one of them still stands out you may have a winner and this is also a good test to make sure you won't grow tired of it as you need to live with this selection for a long time (hopefully).
I'm not going to lie and say that picking a name is easy. When you are getting started, this is absolutely one of the most important decisions you are going to make. There are many more factors that you should consider but I wanted to outline a few attributes for you to have in the back of you mind when picking a name. In the next post, I'll look at what not to do when picking a name.