How to Name Your Startup

When it comes to naming your startup, there are two kinds of people.

The first kind spends WAY too much time on this. They stew over a million different possibilities in their heads, and they create several different logos and designs featuring different names, colors, and slogans. All the while, they (wrongly) feel like they are keeping busy and doing things that need to get done—a startup needs a name, after all!

The second type spends WAY too little time on this. They’d rather focus on the product (or service), and the name, to them, means very little. Call it whatever you want, but what matters at the end of the day (in these people’s minds) is whether the product is high-quality and well-priced. In fact, it’s a shame you really need a name, whatsoever.

Avoid both of these extremes! If you’re serious about your startup, you need to remember that the name isn’t going to make or break your success. On the other hand, the right name can make a pretty big difference, so you should do your due diligence, even if it’s true that you can’t possibly know what’s the best possible name.

But maybe this is all common sense. So why bring it up?

Because what’s most definitely not common sense is the how. Having the right mindset is one thing, but actually picking the name is another. So let’s dig into this process—a step-by-step guide we’ve used to help hundreds of successful startups pick their name.

Write down every name that comes to mind, and stick them on your mirror. And leave them there for at least two weeks. Choosing a name isn’t a process that can be rushed. These ideas need to stew in the back (and front) of your mind for some time before the best options rise to the surface. After two (or more) weeks is up, note your top three choices.

Show your top three choices to everyone you know. See what they think. Get first impressions. And don’t take any one person’s opinion too seriously. The idea here is just to make sure that one (or more) of the names you’ve picked aren’t completely off-base of off-putting.

Survey 300 consumers who fit your target audience, and see which they like best. No, this isn’t hard to do. Try our Pulse product and A/B test the three names (or logo images, if you have them) to pick the winner. Note: You don’t have to end up choosing the name consumers like — it’s important to mix your intuition (from step 1) with your network’s feedback (from step 2) with consumers’ opinion (step 3). Ideally, these things should more-or-less be in agreement. If, for example, your top favorite is consumers’ least favorite by far, you probably shouldn’t pick that name. Go with one where everyone’s perceptions align.

That’s it. This guide is ridiculously simple, but we’ve seen too many startups spend WAY too much—or WAY too little—time on this process, and we want to lay it all out as straightforward as possible. A survey can go a LONG ways toward making sure you’re not totally off-base with your startup name, but ultimately the ideas need to come from your own brain.

tl;dr To pick the right name for your startup, narrow down your personal favorites to three possibilities. Then poll your friends, family and colleagues to get their qualitative feedback. Then use our Pulse tool to survey 300 consumers to get their quantitative feedback. Choose the right name based on these three inputs.