Naming a StartUp is Flippin' Hard

Naming a StartUp is Flippin' Hard

Simon Jenner

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

How do you think up a good name for your startup and ensure that you're allowed to use it?

Posted in:


I cannot begin to explain how hard naming our business was. Even now I don’t think any of us are satisfied with the final outcome. However, after weeks of grinding we had to settle on something. So what follows is my attempt to try and help you to avoid the pain we went through!

Domain Woes

Sitting on Google Domains trying to find a simple URL for your business is the road to madness. Whether you’re naming a Pet Shop or a Bank all of the obvious names are long since taken. That has led to some really odd brand names in the past decade that either drop letters, add punctuation or simply say nothing about the business at all. 

You are going to have to make your peace with operating under a domain like WeAreBrand or HelloBrand for the time being. You can always buy something simpler when the profits are rolling in. 

Fit For Purpose

Nothing jars more than a funny/punny name that has been applied to a serious business or a premium sounding brand used by a distinctly down market operation. So ditch “Dave’s Magic Accountancy Practice” or “Platinum Excelsior PayDay Loans”. 

If you are trying to break out into a market it can really help to have a name that immediately conveys your proposition in a positive way. I’ve always enjoyed the branding of data storage company ‘Iron Mountain’. You are left in no doubt that your data is secure!

Whatever you do make sure it rolls off the tongue and can be easily understood. If customers don’t hear your company name right first time they won’t be able to find you online. That makes the old practice of swapping Q’s, K’s and C’s or a word for a number old hat. Remember Phone’s4U? Ugh. 

Go Talk to The Government

No seriously. In the UK if you want to check that the name you have just chosen isn’t already ‘taken’ Gov.UK have got you covered. 

Companies House has a great company search function that will let you know if the name you have just chosen has been registered. Find that here:

You can also search registered trademarks here:

Beyond that Google and your own common sense are both useful tools for checking whether your name is okay to use. Search online, if there are other businesses that have a similar name in the same market as you…go find another name. 

On that note don’t try to piggy back existing brands (my old tech support supplier was called Mikesoft) you’ll just get sued. Big companies protect their brands with great intensity. Don’t waste time building a business that you are just going to have to rebrand later. 

Armadillo and XYZ

If you are a massive company that has been around since world war two people will understand that PWC means accountancy or IBM means technology. If you’re a start-up ABC is meaningless. As is calling your company ‘Armadillo’ or ‘Red Cucumber’. 

If you’re a cash strapped start-up don’t spend your money trying to educate your customers as to what your brand name means.


Google Adwords provides a wonderful resource for understanding how many people are looking for what you are selling (online at least). Don’t miss the opportunity to grab a common search term as a brand name is someone isn’t already camped on it. That’s basically a free route to market. 

OK, We Love Puns Really

Down here at Million Labs we do have a fairly healthy sense of humour. With that in mind we do admire a ‘Punny’ name (even if it might be a terrible way to brand the business in question). Some years ago Comedian Dave Gorman spent a bit of time on his radio show collating a list of quality pun business names in his Yellow Pages. 

It took some finding as the original page was deleted a while ago. So in the name of protecting a wonderful piece of history here is the full list in all it’s glory!

Download Pun Street

Launch Your Startup Fast and Affordably! Our no-code approach is perfect for non-tech founders. With a simple 3-step process: START, LAUNCH, GROW, join over 1400 startups we've successfully launched. Start your journey today!