Successful technology entrepreneur Serguei Beloussov, CEO of data storage and backup solutions business Acronis, shares his 8 rules for creating a name and a logo for your startup that will benefit rather that hinder your business.

When starting up, every business owner and their team are inevitably faced with the task of naming the company and designing its logo, which is likely to be adjusted and re-launched several times going forward.

The right name can play a key role in its success. The wrong one can contribute to its failure. So how can you get it right?

Use English and keep it short

The word you use has to be carefully chosen, and in the modern world of science and technology, it has to be English or English-sounding. It will be used in internet searches or on social media; it could be heard on television, radio or at the next table, and English is the currently the world’s most recognisable language.

To ensure the name of your business can be easily remembered and spelled correctly, it should be as short as possible, consisting of just a few letters and the minimum number of vowels. Uber or Odin are good examples. Huawei is not, as neither its spelling nor its pronunciation are straightforward. Even long, meaningful names like International Business Machines or Hewlett Packard end up by becoming IBM or HP, acronyms that do not have much appeal.

Make it up

Using a common English word is not a good idea as it is likely to have been used already, so the domain might not be available. This means it’s best to create a word of your own.

This is why many successful company names have no meaning, such as Google and Yandex. Neither can be found in literature or colloquial speech, and, unlike Apple, when people search for them they will get the most relevant results.

Another option is to change an existing word or combine several words into one. SalesForce and JetBrains, for example, as they add an extra meaning to the name by referring to the nature of the business.

Invent a font

Your logos letters should look distinctive, so should be based on a ‘custom’ or ‘proprietary’ font rather than traditional typefaces. People will take notice of this, albeit subconsciously, and it helps to differentiate your brand.

Many large companies use proprietary fonts, where all the letters, digits and special symbols are their own design. A font can communicate nuances of meaning. The Acronis font, for example, has been deliberately simplified and targets a professional audience.

Stylise the first letter

A short and square logo is useful so that it will fit into a user interface icon, or other similar situations. A simple way of achieving this is by stylising the first one or two letters of your logo to use as a short version.

The stylised version should be so simple that even a child could draw it on a napkin. The shortened logocan still be easily read and clearly associated with the company name. Technology leaders like Google and Oracle have gone down this path.

Tell a story

Ideally, each name and logo must instantly unlock a set of associations with your brand. Essentially, it must tell a story. Our thinking process is based on associations and we find it difficult to remember new things without established references and analogies.

The message you communicate should be meaningful, demonstrating the added value of the brand and what values the company wishes to be associated with among its partners, customers and employees. For instance, the dual cross-bar in the stylised letter ‘A’ of the Acronis logo may create a variety of associations. For me, it means dual protection.

Avoid different logos for different products

Until your company has become well established and is achieving a big turnover, or you have created a number of sub-brands, the name of each of your products should reference your company, such as Acronis Backup and Kaspersky Total Security, to help prevent brand value erosion.

Every time someone mentions your product they will then also be mentioning your company name. This enhances your brand value and the likelihood that the satisfied customer will choose your product again.

When a company becomes large and established, each product may create added value of its own and, as a result, be distinguished by a brand of its own, as in the case of iPhone, iTunes or iPad.

Choose the right colour

Some colours work better than others for a company logo. Using a mix of orange, purple and lilac is not a good idea, because these colours have a tendency to vary in appearance depending on the media used, such as screens, posters and business cards. Also green is rarely used in branding, as people with colour vision impairment find it the most difficult colour to identify.

Don’t change it too often

No business name or logo should be changed too frequently – certainly no more than once every five years – as it is likely to confuse your customers.

What’s more, each subsequent logo revision should reference the previous one and consistency should also be maintained in terms of the colour and font. Good examples of logo evolution rather than revolution include Apple, Intel, Cisco, Google and Microsoft. These highly successful companies have freshened their visual image and moved it forward while keeping it recognisable.

Serguei Beloussov is CEO of data backup and storage company Acronis.