Select Page

Those who know me can tell you I’m not fond of buzzwords and hyped terms. Unfortunately, those are very popular in our marketing world and are often used by those who can’t provide actual value to clients so they have to boost and brag about their efforts using bombastic much-hyped terms.

One such term is “Hack”, especially in the context of startup and digital marketing. Let’s break it down, and try understand what lays beneath the hype. A Hack, in the context of marketing usually applies to some kind of short cut or smart use of existing service or operation to create value rapidly and with little effort.

When I started my first venture back in 2008, so many things were different. The costs of building the product were higher, back then it was easier getting technical talent. But most significantly what’s changed and improved is the amount of knowledge sharing, quality relevant content and community assistance that’s available now, and did not exist 8 years ago.

Today, people freely and openly share their domain knowledge and expertise. There are countless startup incubators, co-working spaces, and hubs just across Tel Aviv (not to mention what’s going on in the valley and elsewhere).  My point here is that effectively these “hacks” are no shortcuts, magic or any of that B.S hype. They are merely good pieces of advice aimed to point you in the right direction.

If you’re wise enough to listen and learn from other people’s experience and feedback there’s a lot to gain. One such example is naming your startup or product as you’ll see below.

 

“Dude, how do you come up with a name”?  I’ve been asked this too many times lately. Having gone through the process lately myself,

Silicon Valley's Erlich Bachman going on a "Visionquest"

Silicon Valley’s Erlich Bachman going on a “Visionquest” to come up with a name. Photo Credit: HBO

I decided to detail some simple ground rules and tips for naming your startup/product.

 

The first step in the process is a short thought experiment that’s based on your product/service offering, the brand, values and the persona of your customers. I’d open a new Google document and answer the following:

  • What are your goals for the brand?
  • Segment the 2 audiences that you are interested in working with.
  • What are the words that are important to you and best describe your product/service? What is it’s purpose?

 

“Early branding of a small or emerging company is key to business success. It is the quickest way for your company to express what it is and what it can offer. Inaccurate branding of a new business can make it difficult for people to grasp why the business exists in the first place”.   NYT, The Importance of Branding Your New Business.

 

The next part involves doing some research, open up the trusty whois.net or the mighty fast domainr so you could quickly discover if the .com domain is available. These days there are plenty of viable and respectable alternatives such as .io, .ly, .co and additional endings that might even blend well with your product name. (i.e grammar.ly, bit.ly)

Choose some of the words that are crucial and important, and start discovering how they sound in a variety of different languages. Nice Translator would do the job.  Another critical part of the process is to create a word of your own by mashing two important words together. It’s not for everyone, it certainly doesn’t always work, but if you hit and match something good, it could be very rewarding. For that, I recommend using a service called  Invent a Word. It’s really pretty darn efficient and unique, often times the results can be anything from hilarious to some actual very good potential names.  

Lastly, write down 10-15 of your best options and run it by at least 3 people (your co-founders, trusted advisors and friends whose opinion you value) and pick out your winner. Remember, naming is a vital part of every branding, ultimately it is the basis for differentiation and the very first marketing step you’re taking.