The Launch Path
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The Launch Path

The name and logo dilemma.

It’s easy for startup entrepreneurs to get hung up on things that matter less, at the expense of the things that matter more.

Most entrepreneurs are passionate perfectionists who tend to have a lot of self-identity tied up in their new startup idea. So they really really really want to get their startup’s name and logo right. My advice is to not get too hung up on either, because the name and logo are probably less important than you think.

If you make a list of the top ten things that will make or break your startup, the name and logo aren’t on the list. Plenty of companies with beautiful logos have failed miserably, and plenty of companies with terrible logos have succeeded brilliantly (have you seen the eBay logo? It’s horrific.).

Also, many new entrepreneurs try too hard to come up with a company name that means something. They spend endless hours trying to come up with a name that really expresses the essence of what the business does. And yet history indicates that a short and meaningless name is actually what usually wins. If you look at the most successful brand names throughout history, the vast majority of them are two syllables and meaningless: Pepsi, Nike, Starbucks, Apple, FedEx, Yahoo, Google, Target, Nikon, Canon, Kodak, Lego. All of those billion dollar brand names are two syllables and meaningless (yes, I know Apple is a word but the company doesn’t sell fruit).

And yet most entrepreneurs agonize and agonize about coming up with a meaningful name for their startup. Just choose a name and push forward — it ain’t that big a deal.

And whatever you do, do not get paralyzed by the logo decision. I’ve seen so many founders spend months and months agonizing about the logo until the entire startup opportunity has passed them by. Don’t be one of those.

So focus on the things that will actually make or break your startup idea: unit economics, product-market fit, a sustainable economic model, a high-performing team and a customer acquisition plan that works. Thousands of startups have failed because they didn’t get those things right. No startup has ever failed because of the logo.

Focus on the things that matter. The beautiful logo can come later.




A new book, under development.

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Bret Waters

Bret Waters

Silicon Valley guy. I teach entrepreneurship at Stanford, run the 4thly Startup Accelerator, and coach startup CEO’s at Miller Center. Also, I love fish tacos.

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