50 years ago, Nike was a Greek goddess, apple was a fruit, and Amazon was a rainforest. Today, these are three of the world’s most valuable companies.
In a perfect world, they wouldn’t. Every founder would have the time and opportunity to explain the value of their product to everyone in their audience over an hour-long coffee meeting. You could establish your credibility, tell your story and sell your solution one by one. Your passion as a founder and the quality of your product would sell itself.
This meritocratic utopia would surface the most valuable product as the winner (wouldn’t that be nice).
The truth is, you’re competing for mindshare. Not just with competitors in your industry, but with distractions, alternatives, inaction and more. You don’t get an hour over coffee. You get five seconds. The name of your company happens in that 5 second window.
So how can you get this right? Here are a few tips.
Get to know your buyer.
Whoever gets closest to their customer wins. This is true at the business and product level, and it’s a great place to start for your company name.
- What pain does your product solve?
- Who does your product help?
- What are their motivations?
- What’s the cost of inaction?
The worst mistake you can make for your product and brand is making assumptions about your buyers or the market. You need validation that your instincts are correct. And if your instincts are not correct, you need proof and clear guidance to move in the right direction.
- Conduct buyer research. There are several opportunities for your brand to derail, and that’s daunting. The good news is research reduces risk by minimizing the unknowns. Conducting buyer research helps you understand where the real opportunities lie and equips you to move in the right direction.
- Consult brand experts. Brand strategists do more than design logos and color palettes. We craft stories and build perceptions through exceptional design. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked, “what’s the story behind Innovatemap’s name,” I could start and self-fund my own B2B SaaS company. People love stories, and a great name is like a conversation starter for your buyers — it’s the hook to your story.
Look for context and try it on.
Your audience won’t experience your name in a vacuum. It’s always in context. Macro contexts like the market and competitive landscape, and micro contexts like the environment—site, word of mouth, social—in which someone sees it.
To validate your name before going to market:
- Understand the competitive landscape. Know what other players exist, and seek to differentiate your brand from them. Market research can minimize assumptions and expedite this process for you. Always investigate your prospective name and similar variations to scope competition. You may discover some things you had not thought of, but it will save you heartache in the long run.
- Try it on. Names don’t just exist in black text on a white screen in a presentation. They exist within contexts you control, like your website or socials. And they exist in circumstances outside of your control, like in conversations or earned media. Think about how your name looks and feels in the context of both types of circumstances. Keep in mind that a new name should be coupled with a rebrand.
Solidify your vision.
Your visual brand will evolve every few years. It may be entirely reimagined every 5-10. But your name remains constant for decades. So it’s important that the characteristics of your name accurately reflect who you are and where you’re going. It needs to scale with you, otherwise you may face expensive consequences years from now.
- Invest in your name. You only get to choose your name a few times (at most) in your product’s lifetime. It’s an artifact that will stand the test of time. It’s how people will relate to, refer and remember your product. Invest in brand strategy and research now to save you from costly changes later. It’s worth it.
- Earn buy-in. Ensure the right stakeholders are on board. However, there is a fine line to balance. Too many opinions can make it impossible to come to an agreement, and then you’re back where you started. If there are any hesitations, work through them early on to build a strong foundation. Once you choose a name, earn buy-in from your team by socializing the name (and likely a rebrand).
- Stick to it. Once you pick something, stick to it. If it starts to feel outdated or confusing to your buyers, take note of the problems you’re experiencing and ask a brand strategist to solve them with you.
Know the limitations of a name.
Understanding what your product’s name can and cannot do removes some of the pressure of choosing the perfect one. Andby now, I hope you can agree, the name of your company is important. But it cannot solve all your problems.
A name alone cannot:
- Market your product.
- Sell your product.
- Explain your value to buyers.
And this is a good thing. If names could do these things, then winning markets would be a race to come up with the most clever name rather than add the most value.
Rich Names vs Poor Names
A poor name:
- Creates confusion.
- Adds friction to the buying cycle.
- Has a short shelf life.
- Places you in the wrong category.
A rich (great) name:
- Rallies your team. There’s nothing like a good rebrand to jazz up your team. Though a name alone cannot market and sell your product, it can equip your marketing and sales teams with better tools to sell for you. A new name will energize you and your team to achieve exponential growth.
- Modernizes your look and feel. If your product has been around for a while or you’ve recently undergone a big change, updating your name and brand can more accurately reflect who you are and where you’re going.
- Clarifies your category. While the wrong name can put you in the wrong category, a great name coupled with successful positioning and messaging can clarify your value to buyers.
- Minimizes friction in the buying process. If your customers can’t easily remember, pronounce and search your name, they aren’t going to buy from you. Your goal is to reduce purchase friction, and a memorable name that can be easily shared will simplify the buying process.
- Scales with you. The best names will follow you from start to finish. They’ll give you what you need for as long as you need them. Pick a name that is suitable for one to one million users.
The name of your product is competing for mindshare. It needs to fight its way through the chaos and emerge as memorable–and maybe even meaningful–on the other side.
Feels like a lot of pressure to put on one or two words, right? That’s because names are really, really important. Think about your favorite toy from childhood. Or the best app on your phone. The mind space Legos occupies would certainly be different if they were called Colrsquarez.
If a consumer product’s name is confusing, hard to remember or pronounce, you will feel differently about it. You may not even remember it at all. The same rules apply to your B2B SaaS product.
Make your impression a good one with a name that works.
Need help naming your product, crafting your story or creating your brand? Find out how our brand strategists can help.