What’s in a name “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”
Naming or re-naming a business or product can be thrilling or terrifying or both. There’s a lot at stake, from legal ramifications right through to the future sale price of your business.
It’s crucial for your business’ health that you get it right, especially if you ever decide you’d like to grow it, expand your product or service range, sell it or take a partner on.
There are a few schools of thought when it comes to business and product names, and a lot will depend on your goals, exit strategy, whether you need to trademark it and the actual amount of marketing dollars you intend to back the name up with.
Say exactly what it is
Eg: Pizza Place, Tow Trucks on Call, House Cleaning & Gleaming
- Positives: It spells out what you do for customers so there’s no confusion about the business you’re in. It’s simple, makes sense and you’re business will be easy to stumble across in the phone book and via Internet searches.
- Negatives: It doesn’t clearly differentiate you from your competitors and unless you’re in a completely new industry, it will be hard to establish a strong brand.
Use an acronym
Eg: P.A.F.F. (Phones & Faxes Fast), B.I.L. (Buildings Illuminated Lightly)
- Positives: It can sound snappy or different and still be logically explained
- Negatives: You might keep having to spell it out for people. Also, the name might limit new services you’d like to introduce, and you won’t want to add letters eg: PAFFATIC (Phones and Faxes Fast and Toner Ink Cartridges).
Use the founder’s name
Eg: James Cole Consulting, Bill’s Banners
- Positives: It’s great for networking and building your own personal brand. It’s clear that there’s someone in charge and proud to stand behind their name.
- Negatives: You’ve definitely sold yourself short if your business grows, takes on a partner or you need to sell. Even the marketing professionals – the ad agencies – now steer clear of using their own names in their company brands. Whereas in the past they called themselves things like George Patterson Bates, Saatchi & Saatchi and Singletons…now it’s they’re more likely to be called Naked, Love Communications or Host and Moon.
Go for something different
Eg: Blue Dirt, Ocean Cosmotion
- Positives: It differentiates you from the competition and if you name your business correctly, it will always stand out as unique and different (as long as you live up to the promise with your products and services!)
- Negatives: It can be an expensive process as customers will need to rely on hearing more from you via marketing and PR until they understand what it is you actually do. You’ll have to spend up big to educate the market, but once you have carved out that space, there’ll be no confusing you with your competitors. A unique name also makes it easier for you to defend it if a competitor tries to name a similar product along the same lines.
Eg: Tiger Song (original brand), Tiger Tim’s Tunes (copycat)
- Positives: It’s hard to think of any positives, because even though you might gain a temporary ride on your competitor’s coat-tails, you’ve set your business up for failure by being led rather than leading. It also means any marketing you do might actually send customers to your closely-named competitor.
- Negatives: You could face expensive and draining legal action for trading off.
Mix It Up
Eg: Pizza Gourmevista!, CleanESS (Clean Environmentally Safe Soaps)
- Positives: By combining a word stating what you do with something unique, you’re able to get your message across and stand out, without having to spend a fortune on explaining what you do.
- Negatives: It still might not anchor your brand and corporate identity with as much strength as you need.
Whatever you do, it’s important when deciding on a name for a new business or
product line that you research it well. Seek feedback and advice, test the reactions of current or potential customers to the name and make sure you invest in name searches to discover if someone is already
trading under, using or in the process of trade-marking a similar name. This process becomes even more vital due to ever-growing consumer use of Internet search. It’s no use giving your business or product a name where the matching URL is already taken. It causes confusion and makes it just that much harder for people to find you.
Whatever you decide to call your business or new product, do make it memorable and enjoy the process (thesaurus in hand!)…when you get it right it will make a huge difference to the future of your company. “Janelle’s Juice” just doesn’t have quite the same impact as “Boost Juice” does it?!
Author: Hilary Knights
Hilary is a passionate and highly experienced senior marketing professional with strong commercial acumen, strategic experience and expertise at a senior executive and board level. She has over 17 years’ experience as a Strategic Marketing Consultant working with leading corporate entities and SMEs to transform and grow their business capabilities through comprehensive marketing strategies.