Naming your business or offering is a huge decision and one that you should research thoroughly, choose carefully, and test with your target market.

Here are a few ideas on what to consider:

• The shorter, the better. Shorter names are more memorable, easier to type into Google or Yahoo!, and more flexible since longer names tend to be more specific, if not more limiting.
• Include a solution or image in your name. For example, the Ford “Mustang” infers that it will be a fast or exciting car. It communicates reckless abandon, which appeals to the risk taker in some of us. The image of the Mustang also means beauty to some and power to others. It is timeless.
• Make sure that you can extend the title to other products, other geographies, and services. Like a shorter name, a more generic name allows you to offer new solutions, which might have not been in your original marketing plan. The name “Google” seems to have no limitations, although I doubt that I would name my firm Google. A better example would be the name for an automobile repair shop; it might be better to name it “Earl’s Garage” instead of “Earl’s Tune Ups”. The word garage allows you to do auto bodywork and transmissions if you decide to expand your line of services. “Earl’s Tune Ups” is very limiting.
• Avoid trends or fads since your business or product might have a long life. The Mustang is timeless; the image is just as effective today as it was in 1964 when Ford introduced this moniker. A bad example from a few years back might be a music store named “Mike’s Laser Disc Store”. Who would have guessed that laser discs would have such a short product life? “Mike’s Music” would have been a safer, albeit more boring choice.
• Use an original expression, which is unique to the product or firm. Avoid the use of clichés since we have all heard them before. Instead, choose a name that stands out and demands attention. “Dunkin’ Donuts” is a far better name than “Tom’s Donuts”.
• Include benefits of the solution in the name, if possible. This can be achieved by an image created by the choice of words used or an invented name. For example, combining the Latin word for truth, “veritas”, with the word “horizon”, created “Verizon Wireless”. Combined they create an image of constancy, integrity, and no limits (at least, that is what their ad agency told them).
• Your name can be outrageous or daring, since your objective is to get noticed, while informing your customer about what you do. “DreamWorks”, the brainchild of Steven Spielberg, develops, produces, and distributes films, video games, and television programming. Unique names are easier to find on an internet search.
• Don’t offend by accidentally referencing race, gender, ethnicity, heritage, etc. Marketplace diversity requires you to think about how the name will be interpreted by people different from yourself.
• Business names need to tie to an internet domain name. This is getting harder and harder to do with the proliferation of existing domain names. In particular, if you want a domain name that ends in “.com”, the preferred choice for businesses, you will be challenged to create something new or you will have to use multiple words.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.
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