Thursday, January 17, 2008

A name by any other rose...

Coming up with a name for a business is a very serious business to me. Being unable to think of the perfect name that is also available as an online domain could be the very reason why I still haven't started any business at all. Well, it's definitely an excuse, if not a reason. Regardless, coming up with names for my future company and its subsidiaries is something I think about all the time.

The sort of names I conceive change depending on whatever circumstances are prevailant in my life at the time. Right now, it's all about me and my boyfriend, with whom I plan to partner. I've been trying to weave our initials together in a way that creates a poignant sophisticated word, but I'm only getting names that sound like the line-up of characters in a play about genies.

I'd like to think of something unique, personal, and even indicative of what the business does, but that would just be a bonus at this point. I have a feeling that when I do think of the perfect name, my heart will skip a beat, I'll break out in a cold sweat, and I'll shout "Eureka!" to the world! I can't wait for that moment. So I did a little bit of research on how to pick a business name.

There were some decent suggestions in the article "What's in a name? More than you think!" on The author, Kim Guymon, wrote a great analogy:
Remember the Tom Hanks movie, "That Thing You Do"? Do you remember what the band in the movie named themselves? They were The Oneders. They wanted to be like the Beatles and have an unusual spelling of their band name. Well, how did you just pronounce that in your head? Did you remember that it was "The WONDERS", or did you look at it and think, "What the heck is an O'NEEDER? As you may recall, a radio DJ called them, "The O'NEEDERS". Their name was a bit too "out there" and people failed to see the clever little twist on the spelling. It just doesn't pay to get funky with a name.

I found some really good pointers in the thread "What do you think of my possible new business name?" on Dominic Canterbury replied with these tips:
1. EVERYTHING you do (including naming) should be done with the target market in mind. Any name you choose will end up attracting some people and filtering out others, so you may as well go for the kind of people you want.

2. Names are no good at telling stories, so don't try to force them to. If you called yourself something like Perfect by Design, nobody would read that and assume your work was any closer to perfection than anybody else's. The name, WonderDraw, really only conveys that you might do illustrations as well as computer graphics. And the name, Incumbustible Design, suggests that your work won't catch fire -- a great name if your're targeting fire safety equipment manufacturers, but not if you're targeting those who want their ideas to spread like wildfire.

3. The best names (in my humble opinion) do not necessarily convey meaning, but create something that meaning can easily be attached to. It's like naming a baby. You probably wouldn't want to name your boy Adolph -- too much semantic baggage. But a name like Eli (my boy's name) sounds good and can freely take on a world of meaning.

I suggest you try nonsensical names or some foreign word for firespinner.

Successful entrepreneur Michael McDerment really lays out the nuts and bolts of naming in his article "How To Name Your Company" on I like it because it gives us flexibility to change things up a bit while following his suggested structure.

Armed with more know-how, which I didn't get from any business college course that cost me over three-hundred dollars, I will make naming my business one of my New Year's resolutions. We can have more than one, right?

[This post was originally written and posted on January 8, 2008 on my old blog.]

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