As an entrepreneur, you always had your dream business in mind. Regardless of the industry or niche, something possessed you to branch out and start on your own. As your dream came to fruition, this newborn business needed a name, and so began one of the most exciting journeys for a young company.
Some business owners view naming a business like naming a baby. They realize it’s an important step and don’t want to be made fun of in this playground of a marketplace. I’ve never named a child as I dom’t have any of my own yet, but my wife and I have discussed names as most couples do. Since starting Absolute Marketing Group 30 months ago, I have been a part of more than 20 new business trade name projects, so when we do decide to start a family, I’ll be prepared.
There are three main reasons to name a business.
1. Launching a new business
2. Merging two businesses
3. Re-positioning an existing business
No matter what the reason that you are naming a business, I recommend having a business plan in place before naming your business if possible. The reason for this is to understand your market and how your competitors use their trade name to position themselves. Also, if you focus your efforts on creating a profitable business model, not dreaming about the name on t-shirts to pass out to all your friends, you are in better position for pure business success.
Here are five typical ways people name their businesses:
1. Marketability- it has a ring or provides imagery; it could be an invented word
2. Professional Standard – Name, Name and Associates.
3. AAAAAA Awnings – first in the phonebook
4. Sound like another recognized brand – without breaking the law
5. Website domain is available – pattycakebakersman.com = Patty’s Cake Bakery
At the end of the day, your mission is to increase market share. A name is the first opportunity you have to tell your customers who you are or who you have become. Remember, just like a child, this name will be with you for a very long time. When brainstorming name ideas, here are a few attributes to keep in mind.
Does the name have a ring to it? Use verbs, adjectives, metaphors or colors to describe your company. Joe’s Towing is upfront, but will you remember it?
Can you go global with the name? Whether you plan to franchise or not, it’s important to know if your name will transcend barriers of culture and language. Growing up, there was a national chain of drug stores called Osco Drug. In Spanish, Asco (sounds the same) means “Yuck!” Needless to say, the name was changed in larger cities and in the South.
Remember Joe’s Towing? If you didn’t, thank you for proving my point about being memorable. More importantly, what happens when you retire or sell the business? If you’ve attached your name and face to the brand, it’s harder to pass the torch without someone getting a little burned.
Obvious, generic names or names that need to be acronyms because they are too long don’t brand well. Generic names just remind people of the service, which unless you are the first place that comes to mind, means you just lost that customer to the competition. Acronyms are so prevalent in today’s marketplace, it’s hard to know what they mean.
Can you add a service to the back end of the name if need be. Back to Joe’s Towing “what you forgot again?” could that name be changed to Joe’s Towing and Salvage?
Here’s a list of steps involved with how Absolute Marketing Group names a company.
1. We look at the marketing plan and evaluate the competitors’ names.
2. We swirl around a slew of names. Taking the top 10-20, we start to put slogans and website names to each.
3. Picking the top few of those, we search availability on state and national trade databases.
4. Of the names not already trademarked, we compile a list of compatible domain names
5. We orally test the name as when you say a name enough times, you may not realize your name sounds a little inappropriate. Hirtz Dental or Maggie Sue Insurance may face some challenges.
6. We present the 5-10 final available names, slogans and website domains to the client and a decision is made by the appropriate key players.
7. We advise you to consult your lawyer/accountant about securing the trade name in the proper states, filing for the proper business type (LLC, Ltd and Inc.), and registering the DBA to not include the business type tag in the name for marketing communications. Logos usually look cleaner without those tags.
8. We secure your domain name and get your email addresses set up.
9. Now we begin the logo design process and put those words into action with imagery.
The naming process is vital to the success of a business. However, it is just the beginning. It’s even more important to build your brand name reputation with consistent positive customer experiences. You need to give your baby trade name the chance to grow into a healthy mature brand.