When you think about startups, you immediately picture a really smart group of young professionals biting away on their computers with the sole aim of solving complex everyday problems. But when you hear the names of some of these startups, you can literally hear yourself go ‘What the hell?!’
It all started with Google and Yahoo who named themselves after creative misspellings and goofy acronyms. In fact, Twitter was first launched as twttr. Only when they found ‘Twitter’ as an available domain name did they move to the correct spelling. Then came Flickr, Tumblr, and Yelp. And now we’re hooked to Instagram, Tinder, Spotify, TikTok, and Bumble.
And if that wasn’t enough, we’re now using the names of startups and tech giants as part of our everyday lingo. “I’ll WhatsApp the address to you”, “We’ll Uber it”, “Just Google it”, “Shazam that song!”; we’re now comfortably using these rather daft proper nouns as efficient verbs.
Believe it or not, this is an added layer of consideration when choosing startup names: does this word have what it takes to transgress from a noun to a verb? That’s not it actually. There are startups that actually want to be a person.. err.. proper noun so bad that they choose human names; famously Casper, Marcus, Chloe… umm well, you get the drift.
The cycle of creative (and often weird) startup naming trends has only just begun. But do startups realise the implications of picking a name that is confusingly imaginative? While a Google could afford to spend millions of marketing dollars in explaining everything it does, most startups don’t enjoy that luxury.
After all, who can guess what Fuffl does or what Chloe is up to? When every dollar saved is a dollar earned, it only makes sense to have a name that does the job of branding, marketing and positioning the product in the most desirable way. Isn’t it?
So, where shall we draw the (blurry) line between a creative name and a weird name? To put it simply, anything that is different from the ordinary is deemed weird and in some cases, it’s a good thing.
For example, a startup that helps people from a non-tech background to “break into tech” has named itself BreakIntoTech and got the domain breakinto.tech. Now that’s creative!
What’s great is that the name itself tells the whole story. One might say that the name doubles up as a product explainer, which is a great plus for any fledgling business.
While several startups with rather weird names have gone onto becoming successful brands and pioneers in their respective spaces, they did so after spending big moolah on marketing campaigns.
For startups who are on a shoestring budget, staying on the creative side of the naming trends will serve them in the long run.
Imagine presenting yourself at a startup conference by saying ‘We’re from Deckd, an AR startup that’s redefining smartphone cameras, and you can find us on www.deckd-technologies.com’. Erm, that’s the opposite of how an innovation-led startup should introduce itself.
Half-wit startup names are half-wit for a reason - they are just too darn hard to communicate and build a brand with.
Often, startup names fail the crowded bar test. This means that if you were to tell someone the name of your business at a crowded bar on, say, a Friday night, would they get it? And more importantly, would they remember it the next day? (Assuming they don’t have a hangover).
Speaking of the crowded-bar test, if you opt for ‘Brilliant Technologies’ as your startup name and pick www.brilliant.tech as your web address, it will do way more than just clear the crowded bar test.
When you hear the name Brilliant.ly, what do you make of it? Not much, right? Name hacking with a rather odd domain name (Brilliant.ly) is not a brilliant idea because it does nothing to communicate what the website is about and is rather confusing.
On the other hand, when you hear Brilliant.tech or Brilliant.store, you can differentiate the two in terms of what they promise (brilliance) and in which industry (tech or retail). Now that’s naming done brilliantly.
Many startup founders don’t realize that a startup name with a creative misspelling or a funky acronym won’t remain trendy forever. Somewhere down the line, they’ll have to re-brand their startup with a far more mature and meaningful alternative.
We have enough examples of businesses that have had to rebrand in order to opt for a moniker that is more appropriate for growth, scalability, and expansion. So much so that even CES®, the world’s largest Consumer Electronics Show, dropped its old domain name CESWEB.org, and migrated to CES.tech because it aligned with their global status of the hotbed of tech and innovation.
When it comes to picking out domains names for your startup, a weird name like AI-technologies.com will limit the ability of your startup to scale in the future as you will only be able to grow in the Artificial Intelligence space and not expand into other technologies.
When Stronger International, a Cybersecurity startup, chose to rebrand themselves, they chose Stronger.tech as their domain name and online identity. According to CEO Heather Stanford,
“We chose the .tech domain for a number of reasons. First, we owned the .com and .net domain for our company name but we wanted to shorten our name and that was not possible with those domain extensions. Second, we looked at other domain names like .io (which has been very popular) but we felt that ‘io’ would seem confusing to those who were not from the tech industry.
Thirdly, we chose to rebrand to Stronger International because it told the client what we did, but it still didn’t tell them what industry we were in.
Our old name IT Training Solutions had ‘IT’ in the name. We liked Stronger but wanted people to know that we were in technology. The .tech domain name was a great solution. Our name became: Stronger.tech – short, powerful, and conveyed what we do and which industry we belong to.
We love our domain name. We get lots of questions and compliments for it. It is unique, but so is our company. We would choose the name again if given the choice.”
There’s no magic trick or secret spell to find a kickass startup name or a domain name for it. All you need is a one teaspoon of logic, a pinch of smartness, and a dash of creativity. The following tips will help you find a kickass startup name:
A simple name is a sexy name. And when you’re competing with over a million startups, you need a name that turns heads and gets people thinking. The best way to do this - pick a name that is easy to spell and easy to understand.
Then, pair it with a unique domain extension that describes who you truly are. It’s like the first name and last name of a person. Pair an attractive and simple first name with an unusual yet smart last name and voila! You have a name that will arouse interest among a bevy of people.
Startup names like shadow.tech, outside.tech, among others, are examples of simple names that are just downright slick.
To pick a simple name, ask yourself a few questions:
Keywords make for the most important layer of garnish in your name creation recipe. They add value to the searchability criteria and make your name that much more relevant; much like a sprinkling of strong spices on an otherwise flavourless curry.
Brainstorm ideas for words and phrases that perfectly define what your business stands for and what you want to be searched for and known for in the long run.
For example, an artificial intelligence startup can include keywords like “tech”, “smart”, “robots”, “AI”, etc. as part of their startup name and domain name.
When it comes to searching for the perfect startup name, don’t be an oversmart arse. Take help from online name tools to hunt for a smart startup name and a corresponding domain name for it. Using online word tools will help you narrow down on your name choices.
Here are a few online naming tools you can use to brainstorm for ideas:
Visual Thesaurus gives you a visual web of words around your keyword.
Tech Startup Name Generator is designed specifically to generate brandable startup business name ideas as well as to check their domains availability.
Name Mesh helps to generate a name based on a keyword.
Naminum is a tool that helps to generate business names based on a particular theme.
It’s 2020, not 2002! Stop compromising on your startup name idea just because the name is already taken on .com or if it’s exorbitantly priced. SImply pick a relevant new domain extension!
What’s better, shadow-cloudcomputingtechnology.com or shadow.tech? The latter, hands down. No question about it. Do you know why? Well shadow.tech is simple (we know what that means!) and very easy to build a tech brand with.
For your startup name choice, you need to think outside the box, as well as outside of traditional domain extensions in order to pick a name that truly represents who you are.
The key is to pair your name idea with the right domain extension. For instance, if you are a new eCommerce business, you can pick a .store domain or if you are looking to start an online business, you can pick a .online domain! There’s one for every business type!
Yep, no kidding! If you have name in mind, check its availability on a .tech domain extension so you don’t have to settle for something unsleek and uncool. Here are some names that are available on .tech at standard.. yes, standard pricing at the time of this article going live!
To get any of these or any other kickass domain on .tech, head to www.get.tech or any domain registrar of your choice.
Finding the perfect startup name takes thought. And resorting to wacky names or weird monikers just to be trendy or to find an exact match domain may not be the right way to go.
And don’t fret if you can’t find the name of your choice.
Consider looking for creative options on new domain extensions like .tech where you can find brandable names. And whatever you do, be sure to steer clear from misspellings and acronyms that will complicate your brand identity.