Athol Foden was a guest speaker at today’s Bootstrapper Breakfast and he brought his passion for naming and deep knowledge of the issues that around it. One question that came up this morning–and comes up with a lot of very early stage teams–is whether or not to name the company the same as the product or web service. The natural inclination is to have one name for the company that’s a domain name you’ve been able to secure–don’t forget to check with TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) at the USPTO, just because the domain is free doesn’t mean the name is free. But what about scalability: the technology you are developing may be applicable to more markets than the first one you enter.
Your startup is in competition for prospects’ awareness and attention. The reality for bootstrappers is that you do not have a lot of resources available to enter their awareness much less gain their attention.
It’s twice as expensive to teach people two names instead of one…and to do name searches / trademark searches for two names. Pick one name for both the company and the product service. You can always rename the company or add a second product name later, but establishing the name in the prospect’s mind takes an enormous amount of effort: don’t double your workload. Also, finding one good name and agreeing on it is a challenge, finding two that are somewhat related and both acceptable is much much harder.
Brighter Naming offers a jump start program for early stage startups that takes into account their limited resources and need to move quickly, it’s worth contacting them. They also offer a self-service approach that you can follow if you need a good methodology.