What’s in a Name

What’s in a name? Your company name can mean the difference between success or failure. It’s the first point of contact between the service you’re offering and the mind of the consumer. Is your company name easy to remember or does it confuse and get lost in the day-to-day shuffle?  An inappropriate name can cost you in lost sales.   When we see a company’s name, we often equate it with an image, and depending on the image we see or project, we usually make a judgment about it. Some images are designed to stick, because they are equated with something we already know or remember, some distract. Image is everything and it’s important that the name of your company paints an image that is easy to remember and communicates the service you provide in a succinct way.

In their Bestseller “Positioning-The Battle for your Mind.” (McGraw Hill 1981), Al Ries and Jack Trout state: “The name is the hook that hangs the brand on the product ladder in the prospect’s mind. The single most important marketing decision you can make is what to name the product.”

In the mid-eighties I started an appliance repair franchise company named  Astre Appliance-Tech that I couldn’t get off the ground. It was a great concept, was affordable, and had tremendous potential for a national presence. But I couldn’t get past ten franchises for the life of me.  Part of the reason, I believe, was that the name I chose for the company sounded more like a school than an appliance repair firm.  I’m also convinced that if I had a name that was more conducive to the services I provided, I’d still be franchising today.

Here are some thoughts about naming your company.

How to Choose a Name:

There are many options to consider when coming up with an effective name for your company.  A good name is an insurance policy for long-term success. Descriptive names are better than generic names because they’re easier to protect from copycats and piggy-backers. Remember Frigidaire? Even though GM sold the company to White Sewing Machine in 1979, and was sold again to Electrolux in 1986, the name still stands today. That analogy reinforces the idea of how important a name is. Be original in your selection, avoid copying the competition.  Local names attract local customers.You wouldn’t want to use a name like “New Jersey Refrigeration” if you’re just covering one city or county in that state. Create a name that conveys an image of just who and what you are. Give facts that set your business apart from the competition. Illustrate what your business can do for them. Be conversational. Let people know in a slogan or tag line if you’ve been around for a long time or if you’re second or third generation. Take advantage of your strengths, your positive traits, things you have going for you.  Mention awards if you have any. Remember, you’re trying to create an image the customer won’t forget. When I created my first business in 1966 I called it Speedy Refrigeration Service which conveyed an image of service right away. And in a fast-paced world in which we live, “Speed” works.

The value of your name in advertising:

If you plan to advertise in print, such as telephone directories, the name of your company will determine the position of your listing. Everyone wants to be first, so you’ll see names that begin with “AA”  or “AAA.” These names will guarantee a top spot but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will convey an image other than call me first.  Internet advertising is quite different. There, aside from having a great name, you’ll also need a tag line that appeals to what the seeker is looking for. Your placement of internet ads depends upon factors such as SEO and how much you’re willing to pay for the top spot.

That being said, of equal importance is how does your company name sound when it’s recited. Is it warm and friendly, professional, or is it hard to pronounce?  When a potential customer calls, the name of your business is the first thing he or she will hear. Do research. Check your competition. Scan the yellow-pages or internet for ideas. If you’re planning on being in business for a long time, exhaust yourself in your search for the perfect name.


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