Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One Word Company Names

One of the most important things a company can do for itself is pick a good name. Historically, blue-chip American companies have names such as Bank of America, Coca-Cola, General Mills, and IBM. Lately, I've been noticing a trend in upstart American companies: they are all picking one-word company names.

Are these new generation of entrepreneurs trying to copy the success of Apple and Google? Possibly. Here are some of the new company names I've run across lately:

Box - Secure online file storage
Bump - Media sharing for smartphones

Canary - Wireless home security system
Coin - Replace multiple credit cards with one single card
Nest - The "learning" thermostat
Paper - Digital sketch book for iPad
Simple - Personal finance software
Square - Mobile payment processing
Stripe - Web payment processing
Vine - Looping video app from Twitter

Based on these companies, I have developed a formula for people looking to launch their own one-word startup company. Follow these easy steps and you'll be on your way to startup success in no time!

1. The Name
Obviously, it has to be a one-word name.
It should not be a portmanteau or empty vessel name like Groupon or Hulu, but an everyday word from the dictionary (preferably a noun).

2. The Website
The website must look really slick. Clean design with lots of whitespace and no more than 3 colors. Bonus points if your entire website is one long scrolling page (like an Apple product page).

3. The Video
The focus of your website is to get people to watch your introductory video, which is naturally hosted on Vimeo instead of YouTube, lending credence to the far more artistic-thinking audience your company cultivates. The video should not have any spoken dialogue, but should illustrate your company's product or service through a clever sequence of shots backed by an upbeat instrumental track and some inspirational words at the end.
(The similarities between Nest, Simple and Paper's videos are stunning).

4. The Press
Your company has to be mentioned absolutely everywhere. Not in mainstream media like the New York Times or Time Magazine, but on the web! You need profiles in FastCompany, TechCrunch, Engadget, Gizmodo, Huffington Post, Reddit, and all of the lower tier websites that scrape or syndicate content from the bigger ones.

5. The App
Whether the app IS your product/service or simply facilitates one, you need a mobile app. It has to be available for both iOS and Android platforms.

6. The Business Model
The product should use the freemium model in which some of the functionality is given for free, and members can subscribe for a low monthly fee to enable complete functionality. For product based models (such as Tesla or Nest) there should be no more than 3 variations of the product. Keep it simple.

Here are some new companies I have just now invented using my own formula:

Bound - An on-demand publishing service similar to LuLu, Blurb, and others.

Chain - A social app for cyclists. Hu ge with the fixed-gear hipster crowd.

Green - Um, I don't know? Something to do with finance and smartphones...

Ink - A cloud based printing service of some sort.

Ring - A virtual telephone number service (similar to Google Voice and Skype).

Snooze - Find a hotel room from your smartphone.

Whirl - A location-based photo sharing app (FourSquare meets Instagram).