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After Google creates parent company Alphabet, we give five tips to naming your startup business

12th August 2015

After Google unexpectedly announced it was creating a new parent company called Alphabet, we thought it was a good time to discuss different ways to name your startup business.

Alphabet is, erm, alphabetically ahead of two of its biggest rivals, Apple and Amazon. It’s also a pun: since the word alpha is a financial term meaning an above average return on investment, Google are saying investors will be making an “alpha bet”. At the same time, it’s an incredibly everyday word.

As a startup, the name of your business won’t be getting the global attention that a megacorp like Google is getting, but it’s still important. So here are five tips on how to name your new business.

Brainstorming names, words, and ideas

Don’t just use the first name you think of – it’s unlikely to be the right one.

Spend a few weeks brainstorming words and ideas that describe what your business is all about – not just what your business does, but the things you want people to think about your business, its essence, the thing that makes you different from other similar businesses.

Be creative

Once you’ve brainstormed lots of ideas you can use them as inspiration for the naming.

Don’t get stuck with the idea you need to use a real word – in fact most real words have already been used in trademarked names.

Try using your brainstorming session to combine various words into something new. The name Yahoo is an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” and Häagen-Dazs was coined to sound Danish, but doesn’t actually mean anything in the Danish language. They’re both now household names.

Take your time

Don’t just rush into it.

The name of your business is one of the most important things to get right. There are businesses which do nothing other than name other companies, and they can take months to get it right.

When it comes to naming your own startup business, if you haven’t spent at least three weeks, you probably haven’t chosen the right name.

Don’t be too specific

It makes sense to have a business that does exactly what it says on the tin – or does it?

It might be helpful at the beginning when your business only does one thing, but what happens later if you move into different markets. It’s going to be difficult to market your new products or services because your name will no longer make sense.

Let’s return to Google for a minute. One of the reasons for Google creating Alphabet was because even though the word Google doesn’t describe what it does, people associated the brand so strongly with services such as Gmail and YouTube that they were finding it difficult to operate freely in other industries such as driverless cars and providing internet service.

Think carefully about copying corporations

Some of the most well-known corporations have the most banal names: Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, etc.

You might think then that this is the way to go, using a simple, everyday word.

But these brands aren’t famous because of their names, these brands are famous because they’re attached to incredibly successful companies that are the best at what they do.

There are plenty more companies with similar names that have failed, so think carefully when you come to naming your startup business.

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