What’s in a Name?

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The name you choose for your business has a huge effect on your success. We’ve all seen the storefronts with bad names and thought to ourselves, “Who is going to go in there?” So if you’re thinking you have a really clever name for your new business, stop and take a moment to rethink it. A business name is crucial, the wrong name can doom your business to failure.

A business name should convey the value and uniqueness of your product or service – whether it’s software or oatmeal cookies. It’s been said the best names are abstract, a blank to create an image. Others say names should be informative so customers know immediately what your business is. Some believe the use of real words (versus made up) makes a stronger connection with people. With all the conflicting expert opinions, it’s hard to know what direction to go.

A great name can hit in an instant or be a result of careful tweaking over time. While there is no magic formula to create a good company name, there is common ground among top companies.

For instance, less is often times more. For example: Pixar, Nike, Apple, Facebook, Target, Zillow, and eBay (all two syllable names). Take a note from these powerhouses and choose short, punchy names that are memorable. Shorter names lend themselves better to effective brand management, better customer recognition and more creative advertising.

And please, leave out name puns and/or phrases. While funny, customers typically don’t want to repeat them to their friends and you can alienate portions of your target market. Here are some examples of what not to do:

  • Thai Me Up
  • Pane in the Glass
  • Pho Shizzle
  • Surelock Homes
  • Lettuce Eat
  • Lord of the Fries
  • Wok This Way
  • Curl Up & Dye
  • The Codfather
  • Spruce Springclean
  • Planet of the Grapes

Good company names also have staying power. While you are brainstorming, allow yourself at least a week to really think about your options. The best names are easily remembered. You might be surprised by which names are most easily recollected. If it sticks in your brain, it will probably stick in your customers’ brain, too.

Be sure to field test the names once you have narrowed the choices down. Ask friends and strangers for their immediate impressions. This critical groundwork will give you valuable feedback before making the final decision.

There is always professional help choosing a name if it becomes too daunting – or you’re starting a national firm. Naming firms exist and they have elaborate systems for creating new names and they know trademark laws. The con with this route is cost. Quality name development is pricey, but can be worth it depending on your business goals.

Good luck!