The thin line between catchy and ridiculous startup names

Startup name

The tight competition in the startup market requires taking a strategic approach to every aspect of branding, including the choice of a company name. While this may seem as one of the easiest decisions entrepreneurs need to make, a number of examples prove the opposite.

Consider the case of Qriously — a mobile ad network that aims to create more meaningful experience for both advertisers and publishers. Its name seems to be a result of an (unfortunate) compromise on a domain name, at least according to what CEO Phillip Lauria noted for Adweek:

“We needed to find a domain name that we could purchase at a relatively low cost. And we found a mix between curious and curiosity.” Lauria also adds that the choice has gotten both positive and negative feedback – some thought it was interesting, while others mocked it for being ridiculous.

In any case, Qriously is an excellent example of how you can create a branding problem for your company only by choosing an improper name. Of course, most startups won’t be able to hire an agency to create a brandable name for them like Fortune 500 companies typically do. However, they should definitely try to come up with the one that properly balances between catchiness and transparency. Otherwise, they are stuck in a rut.

Know who your users are
One of the main problems behind the Qriously’s name is the fact that it makes it difficult for the audience to understand what type of company lies behind it. While there probably are many companies who could get away with it, an ad network certainly cannot. This is especially important considering the fact that a name could be a crucial factor in perceiving the quality of a product, which is the most important dimension you should be aware of.

The choice of a domain name can be surprisingly difficult
After the introduction of new gTLDs, the situation for brands has greatly changed. Now there are evidently more options to choose from, but the price for certain domain names is still high.

Thus, many companies fall victim of a tight branding budget that doesn’t let them get their vanity domains. This is why you need to consider cheaper options that will let you choose a company name that accurately represents your company. An increasingly popular way to brand your startup is to use a .me domain, which is an extension transparent enough for most users and applicable to different niches.

Understand possible trademark issues
Another thing that can get between you and your desired domain is a possible legal issue, which is why you need to check trademarks for all the words you’re planning to include in your domain. Remember Microsoft’s SkyDrive? That’s just one of the examples of the exhaustive rebranding process a company could go through after a legal complaint. Suffice to say, this can be a much greater issue for companies that don’t actually have budgets as large as Microsoft’s to handle the transition.

Considering these factors, naming a startup no longer looks like a simple decision. Of course, there are always companies whose examples should be followed, but here one can never be sure whether their names are a result of a moment of inspiration or a thorough research. Whatever the case, there is a great advantage in taking this issue seriously and testing multiple ideas with users to make the right choice.

Image: Robert Occhialini via Flickr.



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