The 7 startup naming mistakes I made, and how you can avoid them

In this blog I have captured the experience and steps we had to go through to rename our start-up. I will include some real examples of names and logos that we considered. As an entrepreneur you always feel like you are running, and you don’t want to spent time dwelling on the past. At the same time you are starting to notice that certain decision that you made on the fly are starting to hold you back. A name is very important to a start-up, as it must capture the interest of potential customers and at the same time be memorable enough so that they might find you online. Additionally, there is the dilemma of the possibility of losing momentum when changing the name. We ran into the problem that our old name, although memorable, was very hard to find online.

1: Search engine recognition

It took almost 9 months for the Google search engine to recognize that CIaimR was not a typo for Claim. At this point we were still developing our product and we hadn’t even tested the name with potential customers.

2: Not testing the name with potential customers

Once we had our MVP we took the time to test our name against other name candidates with potential customers. At this point a lot of our feedback was biased toward the old name as nobody likes change.

3: Name spelling

From the name test, we also found that our name was hard to spell from ear. This led to a lot of people misinterpreting the spelling and not being able to find us online.

4: Unintended industry connection

Another thing we found is that ClaimR had an unintended connection with the insurance industry. Although we did intend to serve this market at some point we did not want to risk scaring away potential customers.

5: Hard to fit into a logo

A great logo has a clear connection to the name, however not all names lend themselves to this. In some cases, it is also possible to connect you logo to a mascot which in the end should give a memorable impression.

6: No strong web domain available

The best domains currently are the .com or .io. A lot of companies also take the national domain of the country they are founded in for example .nl for the Netherlands.

7: Similarly named competitors in industry

This requires some research on different search engines and is extremely important. You don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort marketing you company just to have customers find a competitor website as it has slightly better Search engine optimization.

If you follow this link you can have a look at our old domain and logo. The obvious flaws are: a very generic logo, and a less common “.tools” domain. We wanted to change this before we became overinvested into our name.

Brainstorming

With all these different aspects requiring consideration for finding a strong name it can seem a little daunting. We were very lucky to have help from Sara a professional branding consultant. She forced us to do important homework beforehand. Shown below is one of these brainstorming exercises that we did.

Keyword mapping exercise

What was amazing to me is how important it is that you have very clearly defined your value proposition and target customer during this phase. The Business model canvas or Lean canvas are really helpful for this. Once we had clearly mapped out the brand and the message we wanted to communicate through this brand we got started with spitballing names. Some of the names that didn’t make it are: Loczilla, thiefcheck and verifum. In the end it is important you find a name you can be proud of and still works in 1,5 or even 10 years. I have selected some of our final contenders and explain why we like them.

Identanium .com

This is a combination of the words identity and titanium to reflect our core value proposition of stronger identity verification. Going with a -ium also gives a more mature feel as it is easily associated with metalics which are really strong and hard to move.

Discloaker .com

We really liked this name as it really helps tell the story of our product. We don’t just verify location we go beyond and reveal the real location of malicious users looking to trick the system. Additionally, this name would allows us to create a mascot and work it into the logo like github has done.

Openidentity .com

This is a great name because it is very legible and descriptive, once you hear it you can spell it and remember it. On top of this, it also does a good job of explaining what our product does and what we hope to accomplish for our customers.

In the end we decided to go with Unveiler.io. In our minds this was the better version of discloaker and also didn’t have the same flaw that we identified in identanium and openindentity. Both these names were not unique and there were quite a few competitors who had very similar company names. Starting with a unique name allows us to do much more effective search engine optimization.

Visual identity

The next step was to decide on a logo and a color pallet, that describes our brand. For this purpose we created a mood board including websites and logo’s that we liked. We found a lot of B2B companies offering API based product and got inspired by their modern minimalist design of the website. To further underline these qualities we decided to choose a primarily black and white color pallet. Our goal was to communicate simplicity and clarity with our visual identity. Integrating our services into your app should be a effective and very brief process. As we were offering an exclusively digital service, we didn’t use any pictures or other photorealistic elements.

For our logo we did some prototyping with a more mascot based logo shown to the top left. In the end we decided against this logo and just went with a very simple and legible logo that fit the visual identity, shown to the left.

Website

Finally, we had to design our website by combining all the elements listed above. The black and white visual style was very nice, however it was also very limiting. It was very hard to create legible figures and attractive visual elements with so few colors. At this point we were still looking at website templates that we could reuse, which also meant we had to recolor the template to fit this black and white style. After some consideration, my co-founder decided to develop the website himself. Working with a template would be a nightmare to maintain and he was more than capable to create it himself. At this point we also opened the color pallet up to more colors, as working with a small color pallet requires artist level design skills that we simply didn’t have. Instead we found some great free to use resources, like this one for icons. The end result has the black and white color palet for all major elements except to figures. Additionally we are also very proud of our hero, the view you land on when opening the website. It has an immediate call to action for the page viewer interested in our product. Feel free to have a look at our website at unveiler.io and if you have any feedback or suggestions I’d be happy to hear from you. If you are also a young entrepreneur and are considering a rebrand feel free to reach out: gijs@unveiler.io

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