Why naming your company sucks

I've known for about 6 months that RevenueLoan was not a good company name. I determined that it is a product and not a company and so I started a process of creating a new company name about 2 months ago.  I thought that naming was important but didn't want to waste a lot of time, money and resources on getting a good name. In the past, I've seen companies get totally derailed by company naming and be totally unproductive while in the process of naming. I was determined not to let that happen here.  At the time, I thought it would take 2 weeks. I was wrong. It turns out naming your company is harder and sucks worse than I thought. I thought I knew how to name a company!

Well, I stand before you today a humbled man.  I’m going to share a bit about the process we went through and some tips for naming your company more efficiently than I just did. This blog has 4 parts and should help shed light on why naming your company sucks:

  1. It's your baby
  2. Domain squatters hate you
  3. All the good names are taken
  4. The team needs to be on board

It's your baby

Your company becomes a huge part of who you are. "Hi, I'm Johnny from Crummy Co." becomes the new way people know you. So the naming decision is hugely important - way more important than making sure you don't have mustard stains on your shirt or your fly isn’t down. Those things last at most a day. Your company name stays with you for a long time.

We had a lot of things that we wanted to convey with our name, so coming up with a name that fit all of those at once was more than a pain.  In fact, we had too many objectives and too many people to satisfy with our new name.  Naming a company with 6 people is like naming a child with input from both sets of grandparents -- it's a nightmare.

Domain squatters hate you

I was shocked how hard it was to find a domain. We couldn't find anything. It's amazing how domain squatters seem to think of every possible word ever. It also becomes an addicting game - is this one available? Nope. How about that one? Nope. I got totally sucked into the domain name availability game. You can try adjusting the spelling or add a word to the domain, but the further away you get from an actual word, the harder it becomes for people to find you.

All the good names are taken

About 3 weeks into the process, we had a name. It was good. We hi-fived each other and drank whiskey. As a final step, I emailed our attorney to file a trademark for the name. Bad news - the name was taken. To quote one guy on our team "Pretty sure none of us are excited about going back to the drawing board…" There's no trademark on children's names i.e. there can be lots of Andy Sacks in the world ....but in any given industry, you only get one company name, and trademarks are specifically designed to reduce confusion in any one market.

NOTE: While this was painful, I STRONGLY recommend doing trademark searches before you go too far down the road as a company with the risk that you don't own the trademark.  i.e. it's much costlier in the future to change a company name than now!

The team needs to be on board

If you've already hired a few employees, you need to be sure the team buys into the new company name. This isn't the worst thing in the world, but it adds another level of complexity to the naming process. Too many cooks in the kitchen, kind of thing. If you hired an employee with the name "Earth Friendlies" and suddenly change your name to "Cow Eaters" you risk putting your employees in a position where they aren't with you on your mission. Nobody on our team got too upset about any of the names we came up with, it just makes it drag on longer.

Ultimately, I'm happy to be done with the process. Look for another post about some of the ways we went about choosing a name and what we've finally decided on.