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The Tale of Constant Woe: Finding A Perfect (or passable) Startup Name

[Written for Replicon Vice President of Global Field Sales for LinkedIn]

Settling on a meaningful, memorable, and not totally ridiculous startup name is no easy feat — enough so that it’s even manifested in a new breed of consultants (name developers), and a veritable treasure trove of content solely dedicated to poking fun at startup names.

Your startup name might feel like the last priority on your to-do list, but first impressions matter, and whether you like it or not, your chosen business name plays a not-insignificant role in determining how positive that impression is going to be. Below, I have a few tips for those looking to come up with a relevant and ultimately positive business name:

Strike a balance between relevance and brevity

A good name needs to do a lot — ideally it should demonstrate a clear vision, relevance, creativity, and attention to detail, while also remaining easily discoverable (via Google search, the App Store, etc.), relatively intuitive to spell and pronounce, and distinguishable enough from already-existing business names.

The best way to try to encompass all these demands is to keep it short, and keep it semi-product-specific. Think of companies like Instagram or Evernote; these names effectively encompass their product, but also do so succinctly. To find your own punchy, suitable name, compile a list of keywords relevant to your vision/solutions/products, and use this to brainstorm. If an organic brainstorming process misses the mark, consider using tools like Domai.nr, LeanDomainSearch.com, and Wordoid.com to help get the creative juices flowing.

Tell a story

I work for Replicon, which — as a workforce management cloud software company — may not initially seem to be aptly named. And yet, the story behind the name is both a good one and a relevant one — something which I enjoy explaining to inquiring customers.

As a young man, our co-founder and co-CEO Raj Narayanaswamy set out for college intending to pursue a career in the film industry. Although he ended up a computer science major (and the rest is history), he remained deeply interested in films of all sorts, and “Replicon” as a name reflects this. In Blade Runner — which happens to be one of Raj’s favorites — the Replicants are beings who are human-like but ultimately far more efficient at getting work done. As Raj puts it, “Replicon is all about driving technological innovation and working with our customers so that people can be more productive and profitable in the workplace,” so this name was “a perfect fit.”

So, even though Replicon doesn’t seem to be immediately relevant to workforce management, it’s based on a compelling story that helps explain the value of our solutions — a story that in turn can be leveraged to engage potential customers.

Avoid trend temptation

I’ve written about this at length previously, but the latest industry trends — in startup names and otherwise — are not always your friend. You might feel that adding an “-ify” makes your company sound more legitimate or established, but the newest Dogify or Catify or Ratify is more likely to get lost in the sea of already-existing “-ify” companies.

More often than not, people can tell when you’re being inauthentic, or following a trend without much good reason, so err on the side of caution when it comes to trendy startup names. This is not to say never follow a naming trend, but merely to caution against forcing it.

Don’t make yourself crazy

A bad name is a constant detriment to your company, but a mediocre one won’t be. Set a deadline for yourself to come up with something solid and presentable, and accept that the name you eventually settle on might not be what you consider the absolute perfect fit.

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