The name of your company may be the only impression you get to make on a potential customer. In a competitive market, a name should be easy to remember and part of your overall marketing strategy.
If you cant tell what business you are in from your business card, then your name isnt working hard for you, says Elizabeth Goodgold, president of the Nuancing Group, a San Diego firm that specializes in helping businesses create total identity packages. The name should also be interesting, and not be generic or a bunch of initials.
- In these merger-happy times, beware of creating an unwieldy name from the two original names. When accounting firms Price Waterhouse and Coopers and Lybrand merged, the newly formed company took on the unwieldy name of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Pick one name, or pick the product name that best represents the company.
- Technology companies have to be especially unique. Today, with all the companies with cyber, micro and network in their names, its hard to distinguish one high-tech company from another, says Goodgold. You cannot create a new company using those words and expect to stand out. Youre better off creating a new word, or using a powerful tagline that describes what you do.
- Dont use a name that is unpronounceable, even if it is a foreign word. If a person cannot pronounce your companys name, they probably wont remember it, or may be too embarrassed to try to pronounce it effectively eliminating any word-of-mouth advertising.
- Avoid acronyms; people just wonder what they stand for. In some cases, knowing what they stand for defeats a marketing strategy. Kentucky Fried Chicken has always been known for great fried chicken, says Goodgold. When all the health concerns came out about fried foods, they changed their name to the acronym. But we all know KFC stands for fried chicken. They really havent gotten away from that negative connotation.
When researching a new name, make sure all the biases are disclosed at the start. Dont waste six months examining new names if your heart is set on a particular name at the beginning.
The worst thing you can do is hold a naming contest, says Goodgold. You should be overlaying your marketing strategy into the naming process. It cant be a haphazard thing.
When you find several names that meet your criteria, tell your best customers about the five names you are considering. Ask a few days later which one they remember.
If they remember one name, thats probably the best one, says Goodgold. If they dont remember any, you probably need to come up with another list.
If youre stuck with a bad name, or cant come to any agreement, work on creating a good tagline that tells people what you do. A good tagline should:
- Be conservative if the company is conservative, wild if the company is wild.
- Communicate one simple idea. It should be jargon free, even if everyone in your industry understands that jargon.
- Avoid acronyms.
- Check to see if the tagline is ownable and cant be usurped by someone else.
- Once created, marry it to the company name, cards, brochures and signage. How to reach: Nuancing Group, (800) 682-6246 or email@example.com
Todd Shryock (firstname.lastname@example.org) is SBNs special reports editor.