What’s in a Name?

Some will tell you that the name you choose for your business or product doesn’t matter, and that time spent stressing over it is time wasted. But most marketers believe choosing the right name is critical to success, and they offer lots of advice on what, and what not, to do. There are even a number of companies out there that are in business to go through the naming process for you, but I haven’t personally met anyone who has hired one of them.

What I didn’t come across in researching business naming: There is value in going through the process itself. Whether your business is new, or has been around for many years, thinking about these names naturally leads you to focus on your purpose, your customer base, potential target market(s) and business goals. The naming process can help you identify areas where you are on track or need to focus more attention.

Here is a short summary of ideas that you may find beneficial for selecting business or product names:

… decide what you want the name to communicate about your business or products.
… think about the longevity of possible names.
… brainstorm to come up with a variety of ideas – a thesaurus can also help.
… look at naming practices in your industry and reflect on how to positively differentiate yourself.
… bring together a few individuals whose capabilities and objectivity you respect.
… look for names that customers will associate with a benefit to them.
… repeat potential names out loud, and ask others to say them to you.
… consider what visuals you, and others, get when they hear the names.
… come up with names that aren’t too long, and are easy to remember.
… once you narrow down your list, picture the names as signage.
… “Google” potential names to ensure they are unique enough.
… Look for website domain name availability.
… choose names that “fit” you, that you’ll feel confident and inspired to grow into, and that will inspire action and instill confidence in others.

… create clumsily constructed or misspelled names that make it hard to find you in directories.
… choose names with potential for misinterpretation or mockery.
… incorporate your physical location into the name without considering future expansion plans.
… be afraid to rebrand, but put thought and research into it if thinking about rebranding. 
… get everyone involved in making the decision(s), especially those that can’t put ego aside.
… settle on a name without testing it out on several other people you trust.
… stubbornly hang on to ideas that aren’t working.
… try to be all things to all people with your names.
… use initials or puns that convey no meaning to others, or that may have negative connotations.
… use your own name for the business. Unless you have a great reputation in your small town, or plan to hand it down to family – selling a business branded with your name could make it harder if you ever decide to sell.
… choose a business name that limits your ability to expand into other areas in the future.
… pick the wrong name and then refuse to change it.

Although your business name doesn’t necessarily have to directly convey what you do, it can be helpful, especially if you are a new and/or small business. Unless you have a lot of extra cash and want to spend it on advertising, an “interesting” name could get expensive. By getting the name right you may get branding as a by-product. 

Most customers will hear your business or product names before they know anything about your merchandise or services, so giving attention to your business and product names is time well spent. Make those first impressions count!

Dave Tittle