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What You Need To Know About Naming A Start-up


The name of your business is one of its most vital parts. A great name reduces friction between your company and its audience.

It makes it easier for people to find you; easier for people to talk to you and about you; and sometimes, easier for people to trust you. So says Michael Osterloh, CEO of Host Africa, who shares a bit of advice for startups looking to name their company.

Why a name is important

The name is one of the first things people hear when you engage with them about your company. At best, it represents a mature business strategy, a clear sales proposal and relevance; at worst, it shows a lack of vision and creativity.

It’s also important for discoverability, be that in Google searches or app stores. If it’s difficult to spell, similar to another brand name or confusing, then you’re going to lose a large chunk of your potential market.

The name also creates an emotional connection with your customers, positive or negative. A good name can evoke a strong passion for the brand, while a bad name can create indifference. A good name then, can give you a competitive edge.

So a good name is clear, easy to spell, and helps build a brand. All of this goes hand-in-hand with your online identity. Domain hosting in South Africa is a big industry and choosing a solid domain name stems from having a solid business name.


So here are some S.M.A.R.T. tips on how you can come up with the best name for your business.

The name should be SIMPLE

Clear, easy to share, short and representative of what the business does. Research suggests that startup names should be nine characters or less. Think of a brand like Uber. It’s quick to type, easy to spell, can be used efficiently across social media and is not likely to be shortened in market conversation.

The name should be MEMORABLE

The more readily your audience can recall the name, the easier it is to grow your reach to others. To be memorable, your name should be unambiguous and somehow distinctive.

If it’s too similar to other names on the market, chances are, your audience will struggle to recall it.

The name should be AVAILABLE

Two things are meant by the term available:

  1. You can get the legal rights to use it (think of trademarks etc.)
  2. You can register or at least acquire the ‘.com’ domain name (very important)

The name should be REPURPOSABLE

So you’ve got the perfect name. It’s short, memorable and describes what your company does. But what happens in a year or two when your company’s had to adapt and now does something different? It’s this sort of insight that should push entrepreneurs to coming up with a name that is flexible and allows for growth.

The name should be TIMELESS

Trends in naming start-ups come and go. A few years ago, brands like Flickr and Imgur were dropping their vowels. Why? Because they felt like it would connect more with their markets. The challenge here is that if your start-up is following a trend, chances are there are 100 other people doing just that. This makes it tougher to differentiate from competitors. It’s better to simply start with a name that’s timeless.

Remember that your brand name, and by proxy your internet identity, is every bit as important as the product or service you’re selling. Using this S.M.A.R.T. advice will help guide you in making the right choice.

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