Business, Plain Speaking

Thinking of Naming a Business? Some Tips

I’ve been there and done that.  Sometimes on my own account, sometimes as an employee or contractor for others who sought my professional opinion.  Here–after much research, a considerable amount of training, a purposeful opinion that ignorant drivel and slaver aren’t helpful, and decades of failure and occasional success, even if only in a small way–are some suggestions:

  1. Be very clear about the objective of your business.  Is it to do good?  To make money?  To raise your profile and make people notice you, or notice someone else? Or is the purpose of your business something else altogether.  Get that straight, before you go forward.
  2. Few things are more powerful than finding the right name for your brand.  Think about the effect you want to achieve with it.  Do you want to be edgy?  Conventional?  Controversial? Who’s your audience?  Are you looking to entice Boomers or Millennials?  The name you choose may make all the difference.
  3. Think about prospects for expansion.  Are there any?  If so, naming your business “Great Plains Buffalo Meat” or “World’s Best 5/8″ Washers,” may become untenable when you find yourself wanting to develop products for chicken breasts, 3/4″ washers, or other markets or in other dimensions.
  4. Check out what others are doing.  Do a deep dive, data ferret, search, not only for your exact preferred name, but also for others that may be homonyms or similar terms.  For example, if you think you’re referencing the exoticism of “Memphis” Egypt in your chosen name, but what the reader thinks of (rightly or wrongly) is the provincialism of “Memphis” Tennessee, that’s a problem.  There are many such exact and even just similar homonyms in the world.  Put yourself in your customer’s place. (That may be hard, given your investment of ego in your pet project, but you can do it!)
  5. Make sure the name you choose actually says something about your company.  (See Tip #1 above).  If you’re a narcissist, and what you want is for people to recognize only you  and only your story (and nothing else) when they think about your company, then choose a name that defines only you, your persona, your career, or your attitude.  Otherwise (and I highly recommend this course), choose something else. Because really (and I think we’ve discussed this before) everything that happens in the world isn’t all about you.
  6. Check out the trademarks.  Make absolutely sure you’re not violating any.  And (highly recommended) find a good lawyer in any and all venues in which you contemplate doing business.  Preferably one you haven’t slept with.  If that’s an issue.  LOL.
  7. Once you’ve settled on a name, do some more research with potential clients.  Assess feedback.  See if it works.  Make sure that (unlike the classic of the genre, the Chevy “No Va,”) it doesn’t mean something contradictory in another language. If it does, ditch it.  Life is too short for continuous rewriting.
  8. Above all, make sure the name works for you.  That it’s not so tied to you that a person who’s holding a grudge can come after  you, and that it’s clear that your choice is a good-faith attempt to come up with a name that will work.  After all, in 12, 18, 36, or perhaps more, months, you might be out of the picture, having tootled off to more pleasant climes and companions.  And, if you have I hope you’ll still want your former co-workers and persons of interest to be able to continue without you.

Won’t you?

In short (Lord, I wish I had a Dime for every time I’ve said this in my life) get your ego out of the way and focus on the business. And–if there are actually people you’re trying to help today–make sure that they’ll be set for life, even when you’re gone.

Good luck.  All the best.  Really.

PS: You’re Welcome.

 

 

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