How to Choose the Right Name For Your Startup

What’s In a Name? How to Choose the Right Name For Your Startup in Singapore


Choosing a name for your startup is a very important step in establishing and setting up your business and building up your brand. In this article, we aim to help you come up with a name that not only befits your work but is also something your audience and target market will remember.


These tips should help you in the process of choosing a name and will also provide you with enough information on how to choose a name for your Singapore-based startup.



1. Choose a memorable name

When you hear about businesses and ad campaigns choosing a name or a slogan, you’re bound to hear the word, “catchy”. It has long been a tried and tested method to use words that are catchy to make an idea, a song, a title or a name stick.


In choosing a name for your business, it wouldn’t hurt to find something catchy. A name that sounds good when said aloud, like “Jell-O” or “Coca-Cola” has the potential to be easy to remember. Bear in mind, however, that you are setting up a business in Singapore. Think of how the locals will pronounce your name and if it will still sound good when said aloud in the cultural and linguistic context. If you are from within Asia or better yet Singapore, it might be easier for you to do this.


If you are from outside of Asia, it might be a good idea to get the opinion and input of someone who is from the area and understands the local context of a word or phrase. Which bring us to our next point.


2. Choose something your audience will understand

Cultural and linguistic context is very important. You may choose a word that sounds catchy in one dialect but has a negative connotation in another.

One of the reasons Singapore is a thriving entrepreneurial hub is because of its multicultural landscape and its access and relationships to surrounding nations. While that is a boon for the startup ecosystem it could prove a bane to your company if you choose a name that sounds bad or connotes something negative in one of Singapore’s recipient markets.


According to a study by Compass, a company that provides automated management reports, Singapore’s top target markets are China, Indonesia, and the U.S. However Singapore also has many neighboring economies its market still caters to. You might not be able to reach all of these markets but finding a name that is friendly to many cultures can’t hurt.


3. Make sure it is unique and unregistered

In choosing your name, you will have to make sure it is something that has not been used before. This would not only help you avoid confusion with a competing or totally different company but will also help your company registration go smoothly.


Check for the availability of your company name before you actually go and register so you don’t waste time in going back to the drawing board and looking for a new name. You can check for the availability of a name here. There’s also a list  of different industry sectors you can call or look up to research the availability and uniqueness of a company name.


Choosing something unique is important of course. Even if your name is technically unregistered and has not been used before, if it sounds similar to an already existing business it might look like you are ripping off or copying that business. It would be unwise to go with a name that sounds similar to another company or product name.


Another tip is to test it out on Google AdWords.



1. Things to avoid

There are things you should look out for that you are bound to do when brainstorming for a business name . Here’s a list of some things you should avoid in your process.


  • Clichés – While it’s a bit cliché to say “avoid clichés”, it can’t hurt to be too careful. If you’ve determined that your market is going to be small and very much local it might be easier for you to find out what clichés within your area have been overused. Again, think about your audience and target market. What have they heard too much off? Stay clear of the things they may be sick of hearing.


  • Acronyms – While it does help to shorten your name, acronyms can have the effect of being hard to remember. KFC was known as Kentucky Fried Chicken before it turned into a well-known acronym. But the transition was a natural one. Let the acronyms be assigned naturally. Otherwise, you might just end up with a bunch of random letters strung together that people can hardly recall. If you do use acronyms bear in mind what letters sound good together when said aloud and whether they spell a negative word when written down.


  • Merged names or words – Phil Davis, founder of a business naming and consulting company Tungsten Branding, suggests the trick of welding two words to form an original name is not a good idea and actually makes the classy and high-end sound tacky. If you’re going to merge words, make sure it sounds nice and natural, otherwise don’t do it at all.


  • Generic words – While you want your name to be easy to remember and understood, using generic words not only takes away the creativity and uniqueness of your company name but also makes it forgettable. Twitter is a micro-blog, yet its founders spent days coming up with a name that was catchy, unique and didn’t simply describe what it was.


  • Obscure references – Choosing generic words is not advisable but neither is going out of your way to sound unique. You may go for a Latin or Old English translation of a word or phrase just to avoid banality. But that could easily backfire if your audience cannot relate to the word or phrase, let alone remember it. Choose something they are familiar with but put a spin on it to make it new.


2. Asking for too many opinions

The process of choosing a name for your business is an important step in establishing your startup and making sure your product or service makes a mark in your target market.


You may ask for help, but make sure you go to the right people. Having too many people involved in picking a name, can actually make your choice harder. Too many opinions might lead you to make compromises that could quickly become mistakes. Go to the right sources and seek help from those you know can give it. Ultimately, the decision is yours.


In conclusion

There are available tools that can help you in choosing a name for your business but make sure you get them from credible sources. Consider language barriers and bridges as you enter the multicultural landscape of Singapore’s startup ecosystem. Once you’ve researched and chosen the perfect name, you’re well on you the way to registering your business in Singapore and taking another important step in establishing your startup.


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