What’s in a Name? The Business of Naming Your Company
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” While this thinking may be fine for star-crossed lovers, it definitely is not when it comes to a business’ name. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but a company’s name is everything.
Have you ever met someone and thought that their name does not “fit” them? Well, the same thing happens with business names. People have pre-existing associations with words, names, and even sounds of words, and all those associations will help shape their initial perception of your company. Company names generally fall into a variety of categories and knowing which category yours falls into can help you to create a company image and market yourself to consumers.
In the eighteenth century, the pun was considered the highest form of humor. If Jonathan Swift has taught us anything, it is that word play can really help springboard your career. A clever company name is memorable and makes your business sound fun, so you should take that attitude and run with it. Usually the fun part about shopping is getting new stuff, but what if you could make the actual experience more enjoyable, too? If you can highlight the experience of buying, not just the end result, then customers will be more likely to come back.
The straightforward approach to naming is often overlooked, but there is something to be said about saying what you mean. For companies that specialize in a particular good or service, this is type of branding is ideal. It is easy for people to remember a company whose name and business are one in the same. It also lends itself well to advertising where exposure is limited to a few words, such as sponsoring events where only the name shows up on the backs of t-shirts.
It is a time honored tradition for a company to be named after the person(s) who started it all. Because many of these company’s were started as small family or locally owned businesses, these types of names carry with them the “small town, everybody is family” kind of appeal. This works especially well if the person whose name is above the door actually works in the store, because they can relate themselves directly to the company.
Location, location, location.
Similar to the straightforward approach, companies with their location in the name have some built in advantages. This type of name is especially useful for businesses whose main consumer base will be the people of the community. And with gas prices approaching $4 a gallon, there is some major appeal to shopping somewhere close by. If your target market is not the people right around the corner, then the name has the added benefit of working like a GPS right to your front door.
Themes are a great way to generate a “persona” for your company. Simply stated, businesses with themed names should try to have a lot of character. If possible, have the interior and exterior of the business match the theme. Give the staff themed uniforms. Whatever you can do to make the experience more authentic. The more you can immerse customers in the theme, the stronger their desire to assimilate will be. If you would like to see this in action, just go to a local attraction with a gift shop. People will spend twice as much on something because buying it there at that time ties them to the experience.
For some companies, having a distinctive name is their greatest weapon. People will generally notice something that is unique, so you just need to make them remember it. Since the name may have very little pre-existing associations to it, you need to create those branding associations with something like a logo or symbol. Whenever your name appears somewhere, make sure that symbol is attached. This will link the person to not only the name, but also the logo.