Why Does Business Name Longevity Matter?
Picture yourself five years into your business. You probably dream about it. What will your business be? What new areas are you exploring? What products do your offer? How has your brand story developed? It’s exciting to think about!
What you probably don’t picture yourself doing in your dreams is spending thousands of dollars and countless hours rebranding your business. Yet that’s exactly what can happen if you pick a business name that isn’t built for longevity.
So, what kills longevity? Interestingly enough, the things that kill your longevity can be great for traction initially. We are not saying stay away from these things completely, only to be aware of them their effect on longevity, and balance that against their benefits.
With that said, here they are:
Naming your business for something specific to what your business can serve to limit your ability to evolve and expand your brand in the future. Who knows where the wind will blow. If you plan to expand your business later, or you pivot, you don’t want to be stuck with a name with a too narrow focus. Your name shouldn’t pigeonhole you. You don’t want to change it later.
Let’s pretend you’re starting a clothing company. Your first product is men’s t-shirts with funny sayings on them. You want people to know what you do, so you name your business
This name is a triple threat to business name longevity, in that every word narrows the brands scope. Let’s break it down:
- "Funny" - Limits the businesses positioning. What if you want to sell shirts that have serious sayings on them, or drawings?
- "Man" - Limits your target market. What if you want to sell to women later?
- "Tees" - Limits your business scope. What if you want to expand to pants, shoes, or accessories?
This is an extreme example, but it illustrates how choosing a name with a narrow scope can limit your brands flexibility in the future.
To avoid falling into this trap, choose a name that fits your mission, not your product. Let’s look at a couple of famous brands that have used this technique to great effect:
Meaning Behind Name: To suggest scale, vastness.
Started as: An online bookstore.
Now is: The world's largest online store for everything from shoes to groceries to cloud infrastructure.
Positioning: Applying the economics of scale to every market segment they enter.
Meaning Behind Name: Steve Jobs thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”
Modus Operandi: To make products that are easy and simple to use,
Started as: A computer company.
Now is: A computer, phone, wearable, tv, tablet, music, company.
Edgy or Trendy Names
It can be hard to distinguish your business amongst a sea of competitors. To cut through the noise, you may be tempted to pick a name that has little edge to it, or one based on a current trend.
Both edginess and trendiness are effective techniques for standing out. They are less effective at standing the test of time. Some famous examples:FuckJerry - Edgy advertising firm. Long Island Blockchain
Why? Because these types of don’t age well:
- Trends come and go. If you align your brand name with a certain trend, and that trend turns out to be just a passing fad, then your brand is in danger of going down with the ship.
- What is edgy now either loses its edge(which immediately makes your business seem irrelevant) or becomes socially unacceptable.
- Your business changes. You may be a rebellious young startup now, but hopefully you won’t always be. When you mature as a company, you’ll be stuck with a name that may not describe who you (or your customers) are anymore.
We aren’t saying that you should never be edgy or take advantage of trends. But in general, they are better left to marketing campaigns then something as permanent as your business name.
The Dot-Com Is Taken
You’ve got the perfect name for your business. The only problem: the Dot-Com version of the corresponding domain name is taken by another business. So you opt to go with an alternative TLD, such as .net or .info.
While this may be an adequate solution for now, once you go from startup to established business, you are going to want the dot-com domain. As more and more people search for your business and your brand, not having the .com will create undue confusion, and have a negative effect on your business authority and credibility. If you are going to choose an alternative Top Level Domain, make sure that at the very least there is no active brand currently using the Dot-Com domain.
Vessel Names are Great for Longevity
Now you know the major pitfalls that can hinder your brands longevity. Want to be 100% sure your business name lasts as long as your business does? One way to do that is to choose a vessel name.
Vessel names are invented names that are not derived from any recognizable word (ex. Yahoo, Google, Envato). These names are built for longevity because:
- They don’t mean anything - they are a blank slate. That means there is no risk of your name limiting your growth.
- They carry no existing connotations - They’ll never become unacceptable or dated.
- There are more available in .com - because they are so unique, it is rare that there is an existing business is running the Dot-Com, or that your name will be trademarked.
Vessel names aren’t the only type of names that are good for longevity (evocative names are pretty good too), but they are the most foolproof.
Whatever type of name you go with, it’s important to consider longevity when naming your business. If you take the time to ensure your brand names long-term integrity now, your future you (and your future bank account) will be grateful.