Naming your startup

On Thursday night I gave a presentation on ‘Naming your Startup‘, (see slides here, or above) to the Perth Founder Institute.

In many ways, the name of your company can mean everything, and nothing. You could name it “Blaghhh” or “Twitter” or “Google” or “Snapchat” or some such invented name, (err… not the last 3, they exist, but before they did exist, they each sounded equally silly.)

I remember naming ‘aussiehome.com’. It was not our first choice. It was ‘realsimple.com’, as we wanted to make real estate simple, making it easier for the home seeker and the agent alike. But the domain was taken by a Californian IT consulting business (it now seems to belong to someone else). Second choice was Perth Home, but should that be perthhome.com or perthome.com? – both looked wrong. So we plumped for ‘aussiehome.com’, and were amazed to find the domain was available. We jumped on it, and that day also went to ASIC to set up ‘aussiehome.com Pty Ltd’.

We had a few issues with the ‘aussiehome.com’ name; not from Aussie Home Loans (we went to see them early on in fact), but with the misspelling of the name, such that people would introduce us as ‘aussiehomes.com’ (it happened on Thursday night!). A few early clients over the years ended up going to the wrong URL as a result. We always emphasised the whole ‘aussiehome.com’ and never called ourselves ‘aussiehome’, so as to stress the point. I don’t think this closeness to the mortgage broker Aussie Home Loans really did us much harm (or good) over the years. It was just a slight annoyance for me, as I am fairly brand sensitive. If we’d known about the possible confusion, we may have gone for another name, but I’m not sure it really made any difference.

Names and brands are important, to be sure. Ideally you want a clear distinction around your brand. You want it be so strong that people just have to see the colours or shapes to know who you are.

A final thing on brands.  Your brand is whatever your customers comes to mind when they think about you, see your logo or experience your product or service. It is out of your hands – whatever they think or emote is what your brand is to them. Yes you can influence this, but ultimately, your customers own your brand, not you.

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6 thoughts on “Naming your startup

  1. I love the irony of mistakenly introducing you with the plural of aussiehome at The Founder Institute (commonly called The Founders Institute).

  2. Yes good points and another is to decide if you want a more or less generic name such as AussieHome, RealEstate, CarSales etc or (and this would be my preference for a start-up) to go for something vaguely familiar or catchy but doesn’t describe your business or what you do directly. e.g Virgin, Google, Twitter and even iiNet. We all now know what they do but in the beginning these were suggestive but not descriptive names. These sorts of names are generally easier to protect particularly if you want a trademark. I agree with Charlie though – your brand is what people say it is rather than what you think it is!

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