If you analyze great brands, they have something in common. Their founders took the time to pick the right name, instead of getting the easiest one.
Apple, Google, Virgin, … All of them started with a blank slate. By that I mean names that are not related with the product they sell. Despite is more difficult at the beginning to explain everybody the joke, in the long-term makes the difference.
As Richard Branson wrote in his book Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School:
The original Virgin name turned out to be successful on many levels: It was unique, so it was instantly recognisable; it was memorable but not specific to one industry or region; and it was compatible with the brand that we would eventually build. We were lucky. These days, some entrepreneurs pay branding specialists a lot of money to create, test and refine a brand name and logo – but that’s no guarantee of a successful outcome. Any entrepreneur choosing a company name should think carefully about whether a proposed name is sufficiently versatile to be extended to future products and services.
The problem of picking a name like Pets.com is that you immediately know what the business is about. However, if you start with a blank slate you get to define what your business is about. That leaves you the possibility to maneuver in the way that is best in the moment.
Sometimes is difficult to get the name you want. First, today is basically impossible to get a .com domain, and second, you worry that people won’t get the joke. In the end, we usually tend to pick the name that gets better SEO and is easy to understand (I’ve also fallen in this trap), but in the long term, picking a blank slate is your best choice. Because you can fill with your own story in the way you want.
Finding the right name is painful, but in the long-term it’s worth it.