How To Talk A Founder Out Of Naming Their Startup Something Terrible

If you’re part of the startup world and you understand and appreciate the power of company and product names, you're kind of a Unicorn!

There’s not a Unicorn out there with a less-than-Unicorn-worthy name.

Which is to say: names aren’t trivial. Choose the wrong name, and it can hold a company back. The marketing team will feel like it’s pushing a boulder uphill, again and again… until finally it becomes painful enough to discuss rebranding (which is painful, too). 

SO, here’s what we suggest: do it right the first time. Or - let's be realistic - maybe the second time. Startups, we’re talking to you.

If you’re part of the startup world and you understand and appreciate the power of company and product names, you have the opportunity to make a difference. (And if you recognize that coming up with a name is not as easy as sitting down with a beer, a pen, and a napkin, well… let us buy you that beer!)

A name sends a signal about a company or product, and it can either help or hinder growth. If you’ve come across a name you’re sure won’t succeed, here’s how to tactfully suggest that a founder might want to consider something different for his or her venture.
  • First, ask questions to learn where the name came from, and how personal it is. For example: Have you considered other name options? What’s the story behind the name?
  • Next, learn a little more about the competitive landscape and the name itself: What are some other brands in your space? What are your thoughts about their names? Who is your target, and what do you think THEY will think about your name? Have you done any trademark screening?
  • Finally, move in for the advice. You’ll need to adjust your tactic, depending upon the answers to the first set of questions (i.e. how much this person cares about the current name.) We’ve had success with a soft sell, something like: “I’d urge you to consider some other options for the name. I think your startup has tremendous potential, and it needs a name that will go the distance. My gut is telling me this name won’t do it. Of course, I’m not an expert in this area, so I’d be happy to put you in touch with some professional namers if you’d like a second opinion.”
We are always happy to talk to startups, and do have a soft spot in our hearts (and fee structure) for the right ventures. A consultation is always complimentary - how’s that for risk-free?