How to Name Your Startup: 6 Trends for 2016


By Erica Bray

Choosing a name for your business is not a decision to take lightly. Most agree: You should be able to spell it, say it and remember it.

That third part is key. If people can recall your business name, you’ve won a big part of the battle. The holy grail of a memorable business name (and testament to a superior product or service) is when it becomes a noun or verb in everyday vernacular. Each time someone says “I’ll just Google that” or “It’s like the Airbnb of [fill in the business category here]” you know the founders of Google and Airbnb are smiling -- all the way to bank.

Attaining this sort of business celebrity, of course, doesn't happen overnight. Like so many other startups out there, these superstar companies were once newbie businesses just trying to win an audience. Getting the company name right was key, a choosing a strong name set them up for success.

So how can you do the same? Start by studying the names of today's fastest-growing companies. Taking a cue from once-upon-a-time startups that have since hit the big time, here are six trends in business names.

1.  One-word punch

We’re seeing a variety of one-word businesses that are nouns, verbs or made-up words. Most are just one or two syllables. Short and sweet.

2.  Human names

A growing number of businesses are choosing names that you might bestow upon your own child. This approach helps to personalize a brand -- which can work to the advantage of a company that wants to make a relatively complex product or service more approachable.

3.  Mash-up names

Thank you, Bennifer. Remember when one-time celebrity couple Jennifer Lopez and Ben Aflec were a hot Hollywood item? And the media began blending their names into one? Not only has that now become a thing in pop culture press for all celebrity couples, but it's also inspired a trend in business names.

4.  Compound Words

Similar to the “mash-up,” companies are opting to combine two words relevant to their business or service to make a new word. (In other words: A+B = AB.)

5.  Drop the vowel

If you want to show a little edge in your name, just lose the “e.”

Twitter actually called itself “Twtter” when it launched in 2006. The reason: was taken. The company has since added the “i” into its name after paying big bucks to secure the corresponding ‘dot-com’ (.com) domain name.

6. “Not-com” domain names

The domain name frustration experienced by Twitter and Flickr during their startup phase is being alleviated thanks to a new trend: the “not-com” domain name. Hundreds of new domain endings have trickled into public availability since late 2014, allowing businesses to attach their first-choice company name to a “dot-something” that adds meaning and memorability. No more compromising name choice or having to shell out millions for the ‘dot-com.’

We’re seeing more and more startups gravitating toward this new choice:

Even established brands such as Marriott, BMW and Google have secured their own domain endings (.marriott, .bmw and .google). So as these big businesses migrate to a “not-com” domain name, we’ll see more and more businesses follow this growing trend.