Six tips for creating a name for your online start up
The development of a new brand is one of the more important aspects in creating a new entity (organisation or business). In fact it's so important that if you get it wrong it's unlikely the entity will flourish or even survive.
Increasingly start-up entities are online, or at the very least will have a website as part of the operation. This creates a relatively new and particular set of considerations, which are generally additional to the traditional brand development disciplines.
We hope that these six tips will help you appreciate some of the finer points of establishing a name for your new online brand. Note that we do not cover the important legal issues of name registration and copyright, or marketing fundamentals of 'brand development' here, just some particular online considerations.
1. Select a name that can be easily remembered as a URL (basic web address). Unless the spelling for an online search can be keyed in precisely, a person may never find your website, so you'll want to make it as easy as possible for people, especially those who might only encounter your URL fleetingly.
Many of the following points support recall, but a basic trap can occur where a name has a difficult or unfamiliar spelling or the name is invented or bastardised. Consider, for example, which of these two options is easiest to quickly recall for spelling; www.goextreme.co.nz or www.goxtream.co.nz?
2. Choose a short name. A single syllable word is ideal but if you choose to call your entity The Green Tent Zip Company, a URL such as www.thegreententzipcompany.com is obviously unwise. It is far too hard to read or remember and will immediately suggest that your brand is not online savvy. A URL such as www.tentzip.com is much more recognisable and could be perfectly appropriate, even with a longer full brand name.
3. Carefully select a name with a useful combination of lower case letters. All URLs necessarily use lower case letters, all running together, which means the combination and appearance should be considered in making a name selection. Of course, you have the option of hyphenating or under-scoring words, for example, www.kit-selection.co.nz. However it's not an advisable option because it can confuse people and is not a common configuration in most successful websites. We note the exception in www.coca-cola.com, a brand devised well before website URLs needed to be considered.
By way of example, let's assume your selected entity name is Kit Selection, so you choose www.kitselection.co.nz as a URL. It may not have occurred to you that many people will view the URL as Kits Election rather than Kit Selection. Further confusing examples can be seen in URLs for So Easi Common [soeasicommon] or UND Erarm [underarm].
A useful way to create a recognisable URL is through the use of ascender letters (d h f t i b k l) and descenders (p g j q y). When these occur in a URL in appropriate places, it naturally creates recognisable word spaces. See some examples here:
4. Make sure you can register a useful and available URL (basic web address). It is reputed that the Ministry of Tourism paid $1 million for www.newzealand.com. That's the value they placed on the pivotal national name with .com suffix, after an overseas speculator had registered the URL some years' before. In general terms, for a New Zealand based entity; you'll want to register .co.nz for a business and .org.nz for a non business organisation. But there are a host of other options, including .biz and .com if you're keen to operate internationally. It might pay to register a range of URLs and suffix combinations, perhaps to prevent others from grabbing the URLs. Note that you can ask to have any number of URL's pointed at one website.
5. Consider designing a logo and corporate identity with the URL incorporated into it. Traditional brands, such as Coca Cola and Ford were devised before the internet was known, but many of today's brands incorporate the suffix with the name. Some examples are www.wotzon.com, www.issues.co.nz and www.stuff.co.nz.
6. Brainstorm and use others to help. While this ADVISOR doesn't cover all the disciplines of brand development, it is important to develop a brand name and identity that is fully appropriate for your entity – personality, attributes, benefits, etc. Even for a small organisation, which cannot afford full professional brand development support, it is prudent to make the process as robust as possible through brainstorming and testing ideas within groups.
ADVISOR: How to plan a strategy