How to name your Nordic startup

Nordic countries have been heralded as the next Silicon Valley – and the numbers don’t lie. The investments in Danish start-ups doubled from 2014 to 2015, while Finland’s start-up gaming industry alone had a turnover of almost $2 billion USD in 2014. Clearly, the start-up scene is booming in the Scandinavian region.

By Grant Polachek

However, if you’re starting a business in one of the Nordic countries, these impressive statistics may raise some concerns – principally, how do you distinguish yourself from the thousands of other start-ups in the region?

In a competitive start-up market, the power of your name can not be understated. Your name is the face of your brand. It’s what your audience encounters first, and first impressions count – a lot. No matter how good your online solution, if your site, brand, or product name doesn’t appeal, people won’t buy your product or service.

If you’re trying to break into the competitive Nordic market, you must invest in naming. Nobody wants their venture to get lost in the crowd. Check out these five insights on picking the right name shared by the team at naming platform Squadhelp:

Evocative names are most highly regarded

Online naming resources recommend catchy, unique, short and appealing names. However, after helping nearly 8000 individuals find winning names, experts at Squadhelp concluded that being evocative was the most highly regarded naming characteristic.

A name should elicit a strong response from your target audience. It could bring up an idea in someone’s mind that’s relevant to brand messaging, or it could elicit an appropriate emotional reaction. Some names are evocative because they spur an on-point visualization. For example, a name such as this winning name PureNordic evokes the power and simplicity of an experience in Nordic nature.

Context is important, whichever way you play it


It’s easier to judge a name’s potential when it’s placed in context. Names with obscure references are not usually recommended; however, for a niche brand, such a name may be appropriate

As an entrepreneur, you know it is essential to define the purpose, benefits, and objectives of your project before you name it. A great question to ask yourself is “Do I want this brand to fit in or stand out?” Context informs your answer.

For instance, certain industries, like financial services, have standard naming structures. If you wish to align with industry norms, you’ll use the pre-existing structures, like Sweden-based Citadel Financial chose to do. If you want to stand outside norms, you’ll steer away from those customs, choosing to stand out with something edgier. Neither choice is right or wrong – each simply has a different effect.
Make your names easy

Great names are easy to say, spell, and remember. This foundational advice is often overlooked or forgotten. Being memorable lies at the very heart of naming. Names ideas that are in any way difficult to pronounce or spell must be eliminated from your list at once – they will likelycause referral and branding problems in the future.

Squadhelp’s analysis of submissions to its naming contests found that many people like names that are 1-2 syllables long, like Finland’s “SlimSquad”. The easier information is to process, the more our brains are naturally drawn to it and the more we tend to like it.

Availability is the most common naming hurdle

Squadhelp has found that URL availability is the biggest naming roadblock entrepreneurs face while developing a great name. Also, entrepreneurs know that the naming process is not only about branding – it also has major legal implications. Trademark battles are devastating, so do your due diligence and make sure your name doesn’t infringe on established trademarks.

Linguistics implications must be considered

In the naming industry, there are many stories of international companies whose name turned out to have an offensive meaning in another language. Even manufacturing giants like Finland’s Nokia have erred in this department – their Lumia cell phone is a term for a “lady of the night” in Spanish. You can see why names must be checked for linguistic conflicts.

Names should appeal to a well-defined audience

Make a name that your target audience will love to use. When coming up with a name, don’t try to appeal to everyone. It’s likely you’ll end up with a something too generic or “safe”.  A name like “8 Weeks to AMAZING”, which Squadhelp members recently created for a Finnish start-up, won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s likely that the target audience of people interested in self-improvement would connect with the name.

Using these tips when figuring out the perfect name for your company or product will help your company stand out in the competitive Nordic start-up market. A perfect name will do much of the hardwork for you as you attempt to gain and retain audiences and build your brand.


Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Squadhelp–transforming the way names, logos, and taglines are developed by combining an affordable agency-level brainstorming process with the unmatched creativity of “the crowd.” His book How to Develop the Perfect Name for Just About Anything is available to Nordic Startup Bits readers for free.


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