Your marketing starts with naming your company. A great name is one that starts to describe what you do, is unique, memorable, and usually fairly short. The importance of getting the name right increases with the larger the audience you are reaching. A niche industrial startup offering a unique product in demand can get away with just about any name. A retail chain of artisan ice cream shops cannot.
There are many times when we’ve been working with a client that we ask them straight up in the first meeting: “Have you registered this name yet?”. Sometimes we’re hoping they haven’t, because we can see straight away the issues their poor name going to cause them. Not to mention the grief for us at KLD, when we try to design a logo for it.
Top 5 issues we’ve seen with new company names:
- The name isn’t descriptive enough. It uses generic or cliché words like ‘solutions’, ‘global’ and ‘unique’. If you have a company or product you need the public to grasp, the name needs to identify and describe what you do. Be as specific as you can. ‘David and Steve’s Car Wash’ is way more descriptive and has tons more character than ‘Global Auto Solutions’. Creating an icon of a car wash that you will fall in love with is possible, creating an icon for ‘solutions’ is much more difficult. On top of that, making your name directly connect to what you are selling is doing your customer a favour. Even Starbucks’ doesn’t assume customers know what they sell. Their own store signs go the extra step and say ‘Starbucks Coffee’.
- The name is trying to be way too hard to be original with creative spellings. If Dave and Steve get creative and name the company ‘D and S Car Waashe’, they are creating more confusion than coolness. Yes the name is original, but does it really help customers connect to their business? As they goes along, they will be spelling this over the phone to people for years. And if someone never hears the name spoken, customers may invent their own way of saying it. “I just went to the D and S Car Washee.” Its unnecessary awkwardness. Also, a creatively spelled name leaves questions in the minds of your customers, and can make them feel excluded from the get go (“Why did they name it that? I don’t get it.”). Twitter was originally named Twittr (with ‘e’ dropped, see it here), and eventually changed the spelling to help new users find it.
- The name is your name, and its hard to pronounce and spell. If you are a service business and are naming it after yourself, the good thing is that its authentic. But if its particularly long with some awkward spelling, you may be causing yourself more grief. In our office we had an instance where we advised a client to shorten her Ukranian last name for her fashion brand. She took the advice whole heartedly and the change simplified her promotions, and gave her more confidence when speaking to her retail accounts. And less letters made for a more striking logo. (And… ahem… who’s writing this again?… we stuck with our less than straightforward name to pronounce for our company, Kyle Loranger Design, for over 20 years. We chose authenticity. But we shorten it to KLD when we need to.)
- The name will make for a lousy web address or not be available to register. I just looked up “globalautosolutions.com”, and its not available. Many of these common word domains have been snapped up a long time ago, which might leave you with awkward choices for domain like “globalautosolutionsedmonton.com”. That’s gonna make for one long email address.
- The name ends in -ed, or -est. How the name ends may not seem like a big deal, but can be irritating when they are misspelling your name when they look for it online. (“Is it Solution or Solutions?”)
Sometimes we’ve heard “that’s all fine, but we want to keep the name non-specific, because we’re not sure what services we’re going to offer into the future.” Yes, its true that businesses add new services all the time, but there should still be a core service you are offering. ‘David and Steve’s Car Wash’ is still a legitimate name even as they branch out into car detailing and protective coatings. And even as they sell everything around the car wash experience, including hotdogs and coffee, the core thing customers come to them for is to get their car cleaned. I hope your business can have the same focus, and simplicity it is name.