A friend in the Midwest clued me into a new food delivery service launching in Indianapolis, Columbus, and Kansas City. It sounded good because the company cooks meals exclusively for just-in-time pickup so everything is hot and fresh, has lots of healthy options, and meets customers curbside, so there’s no delivery fee. I liked it. But what got me crushing on the startup was its fantastic name: ClusterTruck.
I would give a business with a name like that my credit card number in a New York minute because I love the chutzpah, humor, and branding savvy. My friend felt the same way. He signed up to beta test ClusterTruck’s service, he told me, “because I dig the name.” That made me wonder, what is in a name? Why should a name like ClusterTruck, a play on a common profanity, delight people so much?
The thing is, naming a startup is a big deal and a big business. New companies pay tens of thousands of dollars to naming agencies to come up with monickers that make them sound sophisticated, edgy, or welcoming. But then why are so many names so bad? Many are nonsense words that suggest the founders got sick of searching for domains and either swapped out consonants (Unikrn) or threw Scrabble tiles in the air (Zaarly). There are solid naming best practices out there, but founders still manage to botch this basic task.
My advice? Name your startup something that makes you high-five your friends while howling with laughter. Sure, a name like that stands out in a market of vanilla brand identities, but that’s only one reason a ribald, rebellious, even borderline obscene name can be a perfect choice. A name like ClusterTruck gives potential customers crucial information about your brand in seconds, which can be the difference between winning their business and losing it. Here are 4 signals a funny, daring name sends:
So those risque names or groaner puns you’ve had rattling around in your head since you wrote your business plan? Lean into them. You might have a stronger, weirder brand on your hands than you realize.