A great name can stand the test of time, can become established as a verb in the english language and can say a thousand things with just 6 letters. Some people have been just plain lucky in picking their names, whereas many others have been rewarded with taking a bit more time and effort to name their own.
In honesty, killing yourself over a name just isn’t worth it, and is likely a distraction from working on your product itself. That said with the right tools at your disposal you can still pick a name with thought and diligence at startup speed.
Each of the below activities should be done in sequence, and realistically each one should take you no longer than an hour or two. So you could try going through the lot in a day, or even do one activity a day over the course of a week - either way, you should get to the end of the process with confidence in the outcome without burning a huge amount of time or budget.
Pick big themes
Themes are a valuable tool to give you some parameters to work in, and ensure you don’t kill yourself thinking across the full spectrum of global language. Try picking three themes - (a) which feels very close to your product, (b) only slightly connected to your product, and (c) a wildcard. For example, say I’m naming my accounting Saas startup - my themes might be (a) money, (b) maths and (c) mythical creatures.
Spend time researching, reading and exploring these three themes, writing down as many ideas as possible in the process (aim for 100 ideas on paper). At this stage there really is no such thing as a bad idea, and we’d recommend taking 2-3 ideas from each theme through to the next activity.
Understand cultural context
If you have ambitions to be global business, being aware of the disparity of global culture is key to naming your business. What a word means in your country might very well mean something radically different elsewhere. Whether that’s important is down to you. Whatever happens, you probably want to get to this point with one or two favourites.
Check availability of online footprint
Domains and social handles rule the world in tech enabled businesses. Getting the fabled ‘dot-com’ for your desired name is almost never straightforward, but whether something you find now, or look to acquire later down the line, starting with a solid, consistent online presence will definitely help.
Check for trademarks
Trademarks can be a funny and frustrating part of the business - but a little bit of work up front ensures you aren’t caught up in a complex legal battle once you’ve scaled (or even worse when you’re still tiny and have no money to fight it!). With confidence in all the above, trademarks should be your last port of call.
Whatever you might decide, we’d recommend these two tips to wrap it up:
Sleep on it! Don’t rush into any decision, buy any domains, begin creating marketing collateral until you’ve taken some time away from your result. The perspective will help you understand how you really feel about it.
Share with friends and family - but not for their feedback. Present to friends and family to see how it feels to talk about your company with this new name. Does it feel natural? Is it a mouthful? How do people respond emotionally?
And that’s a wrap. Best of luck nailing a great name!