A good name is hard to find

A Good Name Is Hard to Find

Okay, we won’t start this blog post with the Shakespeare quote, “What’s in a name,” (as many others do when approaching the subject of naming a business), but we can’t guarantee we won’t end with one.

Names, in general, are important. If we introduce ourselves at a party as “Bill” or “Bob,” there’s a certain acceptance that goes on in the brain. You might think, “This person has a normal name, so there’s a decent chance he will be normal.” If we introduce ourselves as “Pulverizer” or “Tireslasher,” a few alarms might go off in your head.

Now think about a name in context. If a 7 foot gorilla with a chain in hand introduces itself as “Bill,” you might laugh before you run away in terror. Or you might ask, “What are you going to do with that chain, Bill?” But if that same gorilla introduces itself as “Pulverizer,” you’d probably just run.
Name and context must go hand-in-hand. There are typically two ways to meld your name with your context:

1) A descriptive name reflects what the company is/does
2) A suggestive name reflects what the company is about.

No matter which one you choose, popular belief suggests that if you get your name right, your company will flourish. If you get your name wrong, your company will suffer. We’re not so sure the naming process is that cut and dry, but regardless, here are some quick tips for naming your business.

A name should sound good out loud.

In a sense, there should be “a ring to it.” You want the public to think they’ve heard of your company before even if they haven’t. How do you get that “ring” to it? Pick something quick and memorable. Pick something easy to pronounce. Avoid mouthfuls or ambiguous spellings. Music is influential. Turn your name into music.

A name should appeal to your potential customers.

What do your customers want? More importantly, what would they want from you? If you can identify this easily, it might be a good idea to name your company after this issue. If you’re a company that sells car alarms, and your potential customers come to you for safety, working the word “safe” into your name is, well, probably a safe bet.

A name should conjure positive emotional reactions.

Some people choose where to buy goods and services with their “gut.” But it’s not their gut that makes their decision, it’s their subconscious. Of course, you can’t know the emotional climate of each of your potential customers, but you can stay away from words and phrases that generally spark uncomfortable feelings. Like the words “evil” and “dark,” for instance. Also, beware the divide between connotation and denotation. Denotation is what a word actually means. Connotation is what people associate with the word. Connotation is the controlling factor. A chicken, for instance, is a bird, yes, but a chicken, also, is a coward. When you chose a name, make sure the meaning can be taken one way: the way you want it to be taken.


A name should be both similar and distinct from competitors

A name should be similar enough to a competitor’s name that people can identify the industry you’re working in, but the name should also be distinct enough that people can differentiate between the goods or services. If it seems like your company is just another “Mike’s Bikes,” they might as well go to “Mike’s Bikes.” In this case, it’d probably be good to keep the word “Bikes” in there, but instead of “Joe’s Bikes,” try leading with a word that describes your company’s specific “flavor.”

A name’s url should be available/should not already be trademarked.

Seriously. Do the research. Even if you have a great name, without a clear URL, you’re struggling to be found on the internet. If the name is trademarked, well, you’ve just spent a lot of time/money/focus you can’t get back.

Remember when we said we’d end with the Shakespeare quote? Well, Juliet said it best: “”What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

That is to say, in our terms, without a good marketing strategy, a name is arbitrary. A brand name and the brand strategy must be in harmony for either to work their best. When choosing a name, keep that in mind.


Thanks, Willie Shakes.