What’s in your name?

Finding a name for your company is a challenging. Brand advisors will tell you that your name is of critical importance to the success or failure of your new company. For a substantial fee they will come up with a fantastic name, but unfortunately they will not work on a success fee. Why? Because the success of your company depends on many things, and possibly the least of these is the name.

Yet you will continuously be advised to say what your company does in the name and most people starting a company agonise  over the name for a long time.

So let’s look at some examples. You are new to our beautiful island and you are looking for a supermarket. So you immediately choose to look for Tesco, Sainsburys, ASDA, Morrisons or Waitrose? Probably not, as they are all the most unlikely names ever. Do any of these names give you a clue that they are supermarkets? You would never choose any of these names if you wanted to be the next big supermarket chain would you, but would you choose Ocado instead?

Then you look to rent a car or van so you look for Hertz, Avis, Enterprise or Northgate (ever heard of them? They have over 100,000 vehicles and most are in the UK). No advisor would recommend any of these names yet the first three are amongst the biggest brands in the world and Northgate is working on building its brand.

Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple, Aviva and Arriva are all relatively new names yet quickly became household names. Aviva was Norwich Union, and Arriva was a consolidating brand for what used to be known as Cowies and a number of other companies which they acquired. Both Aviva and Arriva are brands which were developed by expensive brand managers. The rest were made up by a few people trying to come up with a name for their new companies – Apple even got sued for their name. All are now household names.

In the 70s names it was fashionable to have 3 letters to depict your name. IBM, GEC, TDG, CDW and dozens of others. For a while it was popular to call yourself Something International or Company Europe or better still, The Really Clever Group. In fact, if you look at the top brands only number 30 tells you something about what it does – Nescafe makes coffee.

So if you need a name for your company, relax a bit and choose something nice and simple. Make sure you can get an easy web address. In today’s world that is really important. It is probably a good idea that the name you choose does not mean anything too insulting or stupid in another language (though I still recon that FCUK was a brilliant marketing stunt which came about by accident). There is nothing worse than a name generated by committee so be careful not to go down that route.

Whatever name you choose, focus on building the product, the company, the market, the sales and a great brand will be the result. Not the other way around.

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