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Startup brand names – Don’t sweat it

April 7, 2009

Some of you who’s counting down to a job layoff may already be planning to set up something of your own. And some of you will look back in hindsight years later at what could be one of your best moments – being let out of the employment cage, being driven to new opportunities, and being “forced” to discover talents you never knew you had. These are not bad things. The business landscape is full of legends that started out from personal crises.

Depending on what you’re getting into, you may find yourself spending more time than its worth agonizing over what names to register, either for your new company or the product or service you intend to bring to market.

Some of you may not agree with what I’m about to say but my quick advice is, don’t bother. If the only shelf company available is called Prettypink Asswipes LLC or something silly like that, don’t worry. Take it. You can always change the name later, once you start rolling in the dough.

The same goes with product brand names. It never ceases to amaze me to see marketing departments spend entire months bickering over clever-sounding brand names, only to stick them on products that never sell.

You see, product naming is an emotional thing and the people involved often accept or reject a brand name for reasons that have no bearing on its eventual success, a lot like how you might react to this…



Or this…



20 years ago. if you told people that a brand like Follow Me would some day become a billion-dollar brand, they’d probably laugh you out the office. Especially if you’re dealing with highbrow artsy-fartsy ad agency types. 🙂

The fact is, many best-selling products do have names that’ll make you cringe and you know what? The brand owners are not bothered by it.


So if names aren’t critical in the early stages, what is?

Two things, in my opinion. (1) A viable plan and enough money to see it through, and (2) your ability to deliver something that people actually want, and to deliver it in a way that makes people want to come back.

Your first job is always to build a reputation. When people know how good you are, they’ll want to know your name and that’s when names matter. Not for how clever it sounds but as a soundbite that identifies you from a hundred other soundbites.

So when you’re a nobody, why get in a twist over names and titles. Put the cart where it belongs – behind the horse.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2009 9:46 am

    Hmm, depends actually. If you’re going for an online business, you always want to make sure your company address can be accessed easily – by having a .com address. That is actually what I’m currently facing. I plan to come out with a meaningful name for IT solution company. 😛

    So if u have any idea, do let me know. haha.

    But yeah, how remarkable is the product, and whether people want it or not……is more important than anything else.

    Ah, you’re finally setting up. Good luck! 🙂

    For domain names , I do have one recommendation: keep it within 2 or 3 syllables, maximum 4. That’s all. The whole point is to come up with an easy-to-remember soundbite. Whether its meaningful or not is of secondary importance. Think of Sony, Starbucks, LG, Nokia, Google, Jusco. Do these brands have any meaning when they first started up. In fact do they even have any meaning today, apart from some emotive imagery about their spectacular reputation behind an otherwise meaningless soundbite.

    I have the same view of company logos. Many argue over shape choices and want to tell long stories about the meaning behind the logo. To the customer, its just a circle with 3 squares in it. Nokia and Ikea does it best. Forget the logo. Just stamp the word, hehe. 🙂

  2. LC Teh permalink
    April 7, 2009 2:58 pm

    LOL. I started to write you a comment. It got a bit too long and I started wandering off the point

    So, anyone going into the drinking water business? Here’s a suggestion for the brand name: “Glug-Glug”.

    Ah, the drinking water business. Its more profitable than petroleum I hear. 🙂

  3. April 7, 2009 4:17 pm

    Yeah think outside of the box. Do not use any dictionary word. Try some Latin or french names.

    …or string together some funky sounding syllables into a nonexistent word. SONY is one example.

  4. April 8, 2009 9:49 am

    I’m not starting up just yet. Trying to register the company name and also the .com 😉 Also doing some stuff under that company name…. just to get ready. 😀

    Good idea to also make sure you have a potential client before jumping into it full time.

  5. April 8, 2009 5:44 pm

    Hmm…client is a tough part =_= but of course, need to gauge the market interest before jumping in. Too risky to do that.

    Yeah that’s always the tough part. But after the first one, its often a bit easier.

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