Y U No Tell Me: Company Names

This is the 11th post in a series called Y U No Tell me; Lessons learned from building a WordPress development business. For a list of all posts in the series, please start here.

When you're first starting a company, something that you need to spend some time on is coming up with a company name. These days there are all sorts of things to consider when picking a name. I'm going to tell you about 3 types of issues you need to be aware of…

Getting Social.com

When you're naming your business, something that we all have to think about now is Social Media. Before you pick a company name you first need to see if the twitter and Facebook page names are available. If you're going to do a lot with images, you're going to want the Instagram name, too. Sure, you can add extra words to the end of the handles to make them unique if needed, but 9seedsofficial makes it sound like we might be a boy-band with rabid fans who stole our social account name before we snatched it up.

Don't forget that you also need to see if the domain name is available. But when talking about the domain name, are you familiar with the phrase ‘top level domains'? That is the (typically) 3 digits that show up at the end of your domain name. for example, facebook.COM or slideshare.NET. Many people will tell you that the TLD doesn't matter. Well, call me old school, but if you don't have the .COM of your business name, that's a problem.

Have you heard of the new social network called Ello? Here's a screenshot of their site.
ello

But when I first looked for it, this is what I found.

elloco

How stoked is this guy right now? I poked around the guy's site and was THIS close to buying some Mellotonin.

The point is, having the .Com matters. You don't want your marketing dollars driving traffic to somebody else's website.

That's not what I meant

We got a call from a lady who wanted us to work on a new site. The project sounded interesting, so we set up a follow-up call to dig deeper. On the that second call we spoke for almost an hour about every aspect of her project. Then, right at the end I said, “I mean absolutely no offense, but I want to talk to you about your project name. I understand that when you separate it out, you may not see it so quickly, but when you use all lower case letters, your domain name has the ability to be read COMPLETELY wrong.”

The project name: MembersExchange

Written as a domain: http://membersexchange.com/

Did you see the problem yet? Let me rearrange the capitalization for you.

MemberSexChange

Woops.

She was mortified. She had never seen it. And apparently nobody else did, or at least nobody had said anything. I'm not sure exactly what that says about me.

When picking a domain name, you should spend some time looking at it from different angles. Can it be misinterpreted? Watch out for putting words that end with the same letter that the next word starts with. This is especially important when the first word is plural and the second word starts with an ‘s'. People will wonder if there should be one S or two.

Numbers

This one hits really close to home… when were looking for a company name, I was a big fan of a couple of companies called 37 Signals (the makers of BaseCamp and writers of Rework) and 12 Horses (no longer in business). I really liked the number/name thing. So we came up with 9seeds and all the social items were available. Just like in the Lego movie, Everything is Awesome. Until it wasn't.

Since we chose the company name, we've run in to a number of spots where having a number in our name, has become an issue. Here's a few examples:

Code functions
When writing code, it is good practice to make sure your function names are going to be globally unique. An easy way to do that is to use a prefix that is unique to you. In our case, 9s_ would make a pretty unique prefix. Unfortunately, in PHP, you can't start the name of a function with a number. We've made due by using s9_ instead… but still.

Online accounts
When signing up for online accounts, we've run in to several instances where the username could either not begin with a number, or couldn't have a number in there at all. This sounds like a pretty minor thing (and really it is), but when you've got accounts that are for the business itself, rather than for individual employees, it's nice to have the usernames be consistent.

American Express
I ran in to this one recently when applying for an American Express card. When it asked for the name of the company where I worked, I typed 9seeds and received the following error message: “company name can't include a number”. So aside from me and anybody who works at 9seeds, apparently nobody who works at 3M can apply for an Amex either?

Again, these may seem like trivial issues. But the number/name issue has come up often enough over the past 5 years to be annoying.

Do you have any other suggestions on picking a company name? Leave a message below in the comments.

Be on the lookout tomorrow for the next post in the series; It's not about the platform.

See you then!

1 Comment

  1. What Is A Domain Name? - Lockedown Design on October 24, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    […] business, to make sure either one haven’t been taken yet. This also ensures that customers won’t confuse you with someone else. It also makes sense to check if that name is available on all the social media platforms you plan […]

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