Copyright (c) 2006 Philip Busk Buskerdoo http://www.buskerdoo.com
Naming a business is a lot like naming a baby. Parents, at least moms, seem to naturally know the vast importance of a name. Have you ever met a mom-to-be that didn't fret over what she was going to call her child? She certainly has good reason to spend so much time coming up with the perfect name for Junior. After all, good and bad names can be forever. It's too bad many entrepreneurs don't spend as much time thinking through the name they will use for their business.
People naming businesses don't always understand the ramifications of picking the perfect name. Where parents spend countless hours and even sleepless nights picking their child's name, a business may be named in a few short minutes.
Comparing the two name choosing processes can lead to better business and product names. A business name, just like a person's name, sets the tone of the business. When choosing names you should limit the number of people involved in the process. You should also strive to find a name that is recognizable but unique while avoiding far-out, unpronounceable combinations. Like all good marketing endeavors, the rules of picking names, even my rules, are made to be broken.
Carefully Decide The Personallity Of Your Company Or Product First
Names set the tone for personality and they tend to be forever. If you go by the name Jonathan Edward Winthrop, III you are telling the world something about your personality. What would you immediately think of when you met someone with that kind of name? You are also telling people something about your personality if you tell people, "just call me Jon." One name is stuffy and alludes to a rich and formal persona and the other is a fun loving "normal" guy. The name is the first indication of a person's personality. Business names are the first indication of the personality of a business too.
Jonathan Edward Winthrop, III versus Jon. One of these names is equivalent to naming a law firm and the other is the model name for a skate board shop. Think Apple Computers versus IBM. Get it? They are both great computers but one is know as the fun creative computer and one is know as the business computer. Basically they do the same things. So, before you even start picking names, decide on the personality you want your business to project.
Limit The Number Of Decision Makers
Parents are normally limited to two decision makers when picking names. Occasionally a mother-in-law or a "helpful" friend gets involved in the process. A few men I've known left the naming decision completely up to their wives. You normally have two decision makers, at times three or more, and occasionally one. Which do you think is an easier and less painful process? No matter if you are naming a baby or a business; I'll guarantee the one person decision maker is the fastest and easiest path but also might not the perfect solution.
Just like working on a name with your spouse, in business you must find a decision making balance. I would try to get the owner or president, a creative type, and someone with some advertising knowledge involved. In the case of a one person start-up, you wear all those hats anyway, so lucky you, you are back to the one person decision; well unless you want to get your mother-in-law involved. Hey, she may be a creative type.
Don't Be Afraid To Make A Change Or Break Some Rules
Some people change their names when they reach adulthood. While making a change can be a wonderful experience, twenty, or more years of name recognition is lost. Think of all those family reunions where you would have to tell people, "My name used to be..." The same applies for a business. Can you imagine trying to change an established name like Starbucks? Then again, if your parents gave you a name like Hornbuckle, can you imagine not trying to make a change? People pick weird names for their kids and businesses everyday. You're sure to have seen a business name that not even a mother could pronounce.
Sometimes breaking the rules wins the game. A company name like Yahoo doesn't fit my rules, but the company is quite successful. If you choose to go the path of a Yahoo, be prepared to open your wallet and spend big bucks to heavily promote your company name. You will need to create name recognition for a name that means absolutely nothing to the general public.
When you decide to pick a name for your business, think of it like you are naming a child. After all, this growing business is your baby too. Spend a lot of time choosing your company name. If you're lucky, like your kids, your new company name will last longer than you.
Philip Busk has managed and consulted in sales and marketing, business development, and internet business marketing. See http://www.bizqte.com/ for more information on naming businesses or business products.
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