Pollywog Interview With Andrew Amann

Andrew Amann is CEO of NineTwoThree Venture Studio, a two-time Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company. Andrew and his team have created over 50 products and 14 startups and are the leading mobile dev agency in Boston.


What pains around naming do you see among startups?

Startups often face challenges when it comes to naming their businesses. Common pains include a lack of uniqueness, trademark issues, domain availability, scalability concerns, and a lack of emotional connection.

To overcome these challenges, startups can consider working with naming agencies or consultants, conducting thorough research, seeking feedback, and testing potential names with their target audience.

What are some common naming mistakes?

Firstly, being too generic can hinder a startup’s ability to differentiate itself in a crowded market. Secondly, neglecting trademark research can lead to costly legal disputes and rebranding efforts.

Additionally, overlooking domain availability can create challenges in establishing a strong online presence. It’s important to consider international implications, as a name that works well in one market may not resonate or may have legal conflicts in others.

Furthermore, choosing a name solely based on current offerings may limit future growth and expansion. Simplicity and memorability are key, as complex names can make it difficult for customers to remember and find the startup. Lastly, understanding and aligning with the target audience’s perception is vital for a name to resonate effectively.

By avoiding these common mistakes, startups can increase their chances of creating a strong and impactful brand identity.

In general, what are you finding with regard to startups and their branding budgets? What priority are they assigning to their branding costs, and in general, do you feel it’s adequate?

In my experience as an entrepreneur, I have observed that startups vary in their approach to branding budgets. Some startups recognize the importance of branding and allocate a significant portion of their resources to it, considering it a strategic investment. They understand that branding plays a vital role in establishing a strong brand identity, connecting with customers, and differentiating themselves from competitors.

However, there are also startups that may prioritize other aspects of their business, such as product development or operational expenses, and allocate limited resources to branding. This approach often stems from budget constraints or a belief that branding can be addressed at a later stage when the business is more established or has generated sufficient revenue.

How should startups approach budgeting for branding?

Startups should strike a balance between their branding costs and other essential expenditures. Engaging branding professionals or agencies can provide valuable expertise and guidance, ensuring that the branding budget is allocated efficiently.

Branding is an integral part of a startup’s overall business strategy, so they should allocate a budget that reflects its significance. By making branding a priority and allocating adequate resources, startups can position themselves for success in the competitive market.

At what point in product development should a final, trademarkable name be developed?

As an entrepreneur, I believe it is ideal to begin developing a final, trademarkable name for a product at an early stage of the product development process. While it may not be the very first step, it is important to start considering potential names as soon as the product concept and its key attributes are defined.

By initiating the naming process early, entrepreneurs can allow ample time for brainstorming, research, and validation. This ensures that the chosen name aligns with the product’s value proposition, target market, and overall brand strategy. Additionally, early trademark research can help avoid potential conflicts and legal issues down the line.

Waiting until the later stages of product development to finalize a name can lead to unnecessary delays and complications. It may require reworking marketing materials, packaging, and even the product itself if the chosen name is not aligned with the overall brand or if trademark conflicts arise.

Any other points you’d like to make about naming?

In summary, there are a couple of naming tips to keep in mind:

  • Consider scalability: Select a name that allows for future growth and expansion into new markets or product lines.
  • Conduct trademark research: Ensure your chosen name is not already trademarked to avoid legal issues.
  • Check domain availability: Secure a matching domain name to establish a strong online presence.
  • Keep it simple: Opt for a name that is easy to spell, pronounce, and remember for maximum impact.
  • Reflect your brand values: Choose a name that aligns with your startup’s mission, values, and target audience.
  • Test with your target market: Seek feedback from your target customers to gauge their perception and resonance with the name.