Time to Startup!

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Choosing a Business Name that Captures the Right Kind of Attention

Published on May 30, 2012

Summary

Read 'Choosing a Community Bank: 4 Questions to Consider' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
By Adam Toren Amazon: Once only a river in South America or one of a legendary ancient race of women warriors. Those images pale in comparison with the strong name recognition of one of the largest commercial websites on the Internet. Interestingly enough, the website’s name was almost “Cadabra,” a short form of abracadabra. Jeff Bezos changed his mind when his lawyer mistakenly thought Jeff was saying cadaver. This leads us to the first rule of naming your company:
  1. Don’t choose a name that sounds like something else, particularly something unappealing. Like Bezos, you may not pick up the potential distortions, so try it out on friends, family, and particularly teenagers and young children. Check with them to make sure there are no slang words that are similar.
  2. A name with meaning is more meaningful. When Bezos chose Amazon, he liked the fact that his website – launched as “Earth’s biggest book store,” was named after the Earth’s largest river. Even if no one knows what it means but you and your future employees, this inner meaning helps link the name with your vision for the company.
  3. Think in business terms. The other reason Bezos chose Amazon was at the time websites were often listed alpha graphically, so Amazon would appear near the top. That was like the old yellow-pages days when companies would be named AAAA Auto Mechanics, to place a company in the first slot for its category. Now, it’s worthwhile to ensure that your company’s name is unique and doesn’t resemble another company’s name in your industry.
  4. Make it easy, make it memorable. Your company’s name should be spelled just like it sounds. Don’t make it any harder than it has to be. You may lose customers who can’t figure out how to spell your name well enough to find your website. Next, choose a name that will stay with people. It helps if it’s recognizable – a name that means something is better than the pseudo-names you will see large corporations pay lots of money to have a consulting firm generate, unless of course you’re Google and can make a name memorable.
  5. Connect the name to the purpose of your business. There’s a small company called Simplistic Designs that makes beautiful handmade brass hair ornaments. Unfortunately the company’s name provides no clue to its purpose. What do they sell? It could be anything from toys to clothing to architecture. Also, by choosing a more generic name, the owner has done nothing to help search engines find it. This man’s decision for his company’s name is probably costing him business every day, even though his product is terrific.
  6. Choose a name that will last. Amazon’s original tagline, “Earth’s biggest bookstore,” is now completely out-of-date, but the Amazon name still works as the company’s purpose and products have grown. Like the challenge of growing up with a name parents thought was cute for their baby – such as Chris P. Bacon (crispy bacon) or Constance Noring (constant snoring) – you don’t want a company name that will be fun when you’re small but limiting or even irritating as you grow.
Your company’s name is one of the first decisions you make when you start your business. Don’t just toss ideas around and select the best one you come up with over an afternoon. Take the time to really explore until you discover just the right title for your brand new company. After all, you want the name and the company to be part of your life for a long time.   ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Adam (23)me-1Adam Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Matthew, of the award winning books, Kidpreneursand Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right. Their latest project is a free classified ads network called: iSell.com