Day 14 Company Name

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Brand Image

Branding is an effective way to differentiate, define and articulate the uniqueness and individual promise of value that your business has to offer. It immediately and subliminally tells people what your business stands for and why they should care about what you have to offer. Branding is not just a visual image. Ultimately, it is the experience of your brand.

We’re sure by now that you’ve already chosen a name for your company that you are satisfied with. The intention of this segment is to convey the importance of tying all of the elements of your brand together. A bit of review can only enhance that experience.

Today’s Topic: Company Name

For entrepreneurs, the importance of choosing the right name for a company can be daunting. The savvy business owner knows that much is riding on the success of the organization as the company name is spoken in public, written in publications and repeated over and over again by clients, leads, employees and even the media. How are you to know that the name will be well received, memorable and held in high-esteem? You don’t need the sound of your business name to conjure up negative images!

Some individuals are so good at this process, that they’ve made it THEIR business to create a name for you! “Name consultants” occupy a special niche and can operate million-dollar companies based on their abilities. San Francisco-based naming boutique Eat My Words, which has worked for Kinko’s, Jamba Juice and others has come up with a simple formula for what they do, it’s called the Smile & Scratch Test. Here it is:

To test out a company’s name, first ask if it possesses these qualities:

  • Simple — one easy-to-understand concept
  • Meaningful — clients instantly “get it”
  • Imagery — visually evocative, creates a mental picture
  • Legs — carries the brand, lends itself to wordplay
  • Emotional — empowers, entertains, engages, enlightens

Then, scratch the name if it’s got these deal-breakers:

  • Spelling-challenged – you have to tell people how to spell it
  • Copycat – similar to a competitor’s names
  • Random – disconnected from the brand
  • Annoying – hidden meaning, forced
  • Tame – flat, uninspired, boring, non-emotional
  • Curse of knowledge – only insiders get it
  • Hard-to-pronounce – not obvious, relies on punctuation

If that still feels daunting, there is another perspective to consider, particularly if you are a one-person business and it’s YOU that people are hiring, not your name. Simply use your personal name as part of the business name. For example:

  • John Smith Interiors
  • Mary Adams Professional Coaching
  • Julia’s Catering
  • John Smith & Associates
  • Mary Adams, LLC
  • Julia Sheinberg, Inc.

Today’s Action: Assess Your Company Name

If you are not using your personal name as part of your business name, use the Smile & Scratch formula to assess the effectiveness of your company’s name. Are there any adjustments that you may be able to make? For example, social networking giant Facebook originally was named “The Facebook.” Perhaps there’s a clever but troublesome spelling issue you could easily correct? Making minor corrections on your branding collateral may not require an official name change with regulatory agencies. Ask your legal counsel if you are unsure.

If you use your personal name as part of your business name, does your business name convey the core service that you offer? If not, consider changing your business name so that it is more descriptive. You can still use the Smile & Scratch formula to validate your new name.


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