How many times have you seen a business name like "Fort Street Inc," "Jones & Brown" or "Johnson Enterprises?"
Sure you have. In fact, you’ve probably even wondered what they do.
So do their customers.
Having a poorly planned name for your business, blog, or product can cause you to lose sales, miss opportunities, and even cause customers to form the wrong opinions of your product and its value.
The name you give your business, blog, or product is a key factor in the success of your brand.
Creating an effective name is an important step in the development of your brand. An effective name will connect with your audience, convey what you do, and set your brand up for success.
Names like the ones above are too vague to be effective. Sure they’d work great as a "front" for some super-secret spy headquarters, but not for your business.
Names that are "nondescript," like the ones above, hide what you do from the very people you want to buy your stuff.
If you want to build an effective and successful brand, you need a name that is engaging, interesting, and clearly states what you do.
The five elements of a good name
So how do you create a name that’s going to launch your brand instead of drag it down?
Here are the key elements of an effective name.
1. Your name needs to convey what you do.
The very first question your name needs to answer is "what do you do?" When someone who needs the product or service you provide is looking through a list of companies in your industry, the first ones they will try calling are the ones whose name indicates they provide what the customer needs.
Why? Because in their mind, they have a better chance of finding what they need from a company whose name indicates that’s what they do.
Think about it from the customer’s point of view for a moment.
Let’s say I’m an entrepreneur that just found out about a trade show all my clients will be at that is happening the day after tomorrow, and I just realized that I’m out of business cards. So I open my chamber of commerce membership directory and see the following companies listed under "printing:"
- Jones & Jones Printing
- Smith Reproductions
- Speedy Printing
- PDQ Printing
- Business Cards Tomorrow
Now, assuming I’ve never done business with any of them before, the only thing I have to go on right now is the name of the business as an initial filter. Looking at that list, the first company I’d call would be "Business Cards Tomorrow" since I need cards and need them quick.
2. Your name needs to connect with your target customer.
The second most important element of your name is how well it engages your ideal customer. A good name will connect with your audience instantly because it speaks to the need, emotion, or desire they have.
And that connection doesn’t have to be direct. It can also be implied.
Let’s take another look at the business card example above. If you owned one of those companies, you could call yourself "Quickie Cards," but that name implies poor quality and lower value than "Business Cards Tomorrow" which conveys speedy service without sacrificing value – which brings me to my next point.
3. Your name should convey your brand’s style and imply value.
As I started talking about in the previous point, the name you choose needs to be consistent with the quality of what you’re selling, and the price you plan to sell it at in order to be perceived as having the proper value.
For example, which of these two names would you associate with a company that sells expensive jewelry: "Glitter" or "Elegante?"
Elegante obviously, because "Glitter" sounds like a store that sells magnetic ear rings and bright-colored nail polish for teenage girls. So as you can see, the name you choose plays an important role in setting the customer’s expectations of what your item is worth.
You also want your name to convey your brand’s style.
I’ve tied this in with value because the style your name conveys also affects its perceived value as you saw above with the jewelry store example.
Injecting your style into your brand is a matter of choosing the right words to use. Because different words invoke different mental pictures, it’s important that the words you choose paint the right picture in your customer’s mind.
For example, the word "school" creates an image of elementary or basic education and is more casual in nature, while "academy" suggests a more professional level of learning that can be taken seriously.
4. Your name needs to be easy to pronounce and spell.
This one seems like a "no brainer" but is one that is often overlooked. If no one but you can pronounce or spell your name, how will people find you or refer you to a friend?
I’m a perfect example of this point in action.
When I first started blogging, one of the biggest reasons I selected the pen name Logan Zanelli was because it’s much easier to pronounce and spell than my real name. People are always misspelling my last name, and when it’s misspelled, there are tens of thousands of people with the same name as me. Google even suggests the wrong spelling when you search my real name with their "Did you mean…" feature – leading people away from me rather than to me.
Using a pen name that’s easy to spell and pronounce solves that problem and makes it easier for people to find me. Just being angry at my parents didn’t help.
5. Your name should be unique and easy to remember.
The name you select will be much easier for people to find if it’s unique, because it will stand out more. You’ll also find matching domain names for your brand a lot easier with a unique name than one that’s fairly common.
However, a name that’s unique but not memorable won’t do you any good.
It’s critical that people be able to remember your name. How many times have you been talking to a friend who needed something, and you knew the perfect company or product to refer them to but couldn’t remember the name?
Happens all the time.
So when you choose a name, make sure it’s something that will stick in people’s heads so they come back to you again and again.
The bottom line
An effective name will get your brand started off on the right path. In order to have a brand that reaches its full potential, you need a name that connects with your customers, tells them what you do, and conveys the style you’ve selected for your brand. Without those key elements, your name will blend into the crowd like the invisible man.
What have you found to be the most successful part of your business name and why? Share your experiences in the comments below.