— Summary —
Today I answer a frequent question—"Is the name of your business really that important?“
The short answer is YES. Your name is the first piece of branding that you are going to do. It is your first message to the world.
Here’ are the 5 things that come about from your name:
- Precept: It creates a legal identity and introduces the company to the marketplace.
- Position: The business name can portray your position in an industry or marketplace. It creates a visual impression.
- Personality: Your name can signify the kind of personality traits or reputation the business portrays.
- Product: Your name can also be something that you offer as a product. Be careful and think broader to have a name that will not limit you down the road.
- Preferences: The name can be driven from the market that you are specifically focusing on. It can be influenced by the past or who you are planning on serving.
If you engineer it carefully, the name you come up with will deal with all five of these. Think about your identity, position, personality, offering and preferences before throwing a name out there.
The 4 steps to go through to build on your name:
- Priming: Prepare by collecting data and resources. Set the criteria of what you want your name to denote.
- Propagate: Get the list together and brainstorm. Take everything you have come up with and find a common theme.
- Process: Reduce the list according to the criteria. Grade, filter and prioritize it.
- Protect: Search and see whether you have created a name that is similar to someone else’s trademark. Also look for its availability on the web.
Do’s and don’ts for business names
What shouldn’t you do?
- Choose an irrelevant business name.
- Geographically limit yourself.
- Limit your product or service.
- Have confusing long names.
- Borrow from other similar brands.
What should you do?
- Make sure that the name is relatable to your customers, marketplace and team.
- Make sure it’s attractive for your target customers.
- Be careful about new spellings and words.
- Keep it simple.
- Make it web friendly.
- Confirm that it is protectable with trademarks.
— Begin Transcript —
Hey there, I’m Mel Abraham, the author of the number one national best-selling book, The Entrepreneur’s Solution and the founder of Business Breakthrough Academy, where we teach you how to design a business and create a life: A life of financial freedom and peace of mind.
And welcome back to this episode of The Entrepreneur’s Solution Show. This one’s going to be kind of a cool episode because I get to answer a question that seems to come up a fair amount and that is, "Is the name of your business really that important?”
And you know what? The short answer to that is “Absolutely Yes” and when we come back from this brief introduction, we’re going to talk about:
- • The keys to a good name,
- • The things to look for,
- • How to evaluate, and
- • My four step process of coming up with your business name.
And just like every other episode, this one has a guide to it. This actually has a tool to it that helps you evaluate your names and figure out which one is the best name for you. And you can get that by going to the download page; going to MelAbraham.com/session027. That’s MelAbraham.com/session027.
And if you happen to not be at your computer, maybe you’re at the gym listening to this or you’re driving and you can’t be at your computer, go ahead and just text, but do it safely, text to 38470 MYLEGACY one-word MYLEGACY no-spaces, 38470. We’ll text you back a link, a download link so you can get access to the tool for this episode and we’ll see you right back here to talk about your business name right after this introduction. See you soon. Bye.
Hey there, welcome back. This is Mel Abraham of The Entrepreneur’s Solution show and as I said in this episode we’re going to talk about something that comes up often. I had a person ask me this question, “Is it really that important what you name your business?”
And I think the short answer is, “Yes”.
What we need to do is really understand
- What’s in a name?
- What are the dynamics to the name?
- And what can it represent and present?
Now, by and large, there may be, you have flexibility into how you name your business. But there might be some legal limitations for instance me as a CPA, I can only use certain types of names for my CPA firm or attorneys or doctors. So, barring any legal limitations that might exist in your state or in your country, your name is really important because it presents to the world the first piece of branding that you’re going to do. It’s the first message the world sees. It’s the first thing that the world knows about you and that’s your company name if you look at it that way.
So, let’s just look at what I call the 5 stages or The 5 things that come about from your name. And this will try to bring full circle, the keys and why this is so important to think about.
And the first one, I call Precept.
And this is about creating a legal identity. This is about creating an identity in the marketplace. This is about driving that stake in the ground and saying, “Here’s who I am.” This is truly about who the company is and making sure that you have your position laid out.
The second thing that comes from a name is this concept of Position.
Position in your industry, position in…your market position. So, when I mean when you think about the name for instance: Four Seasons or Ritz. The name of that just kind of creates a visual, creates an impression, creates a feeling in the person because it’s been built as a brand. So, one of the things that we need to think about when we’re thinking about our name is, “What position are we trying to take in the industry.”
- Are we looking at luxury brands?
- Are we looking at commodity types of position?
- What position can your name portray?
Now, it may not portray anything as far as that goes but understand that how you name your business can portray your position in an industry or marketplace.
It also can present Personality. You can have a fun name and people say, “This is going to be a fun organization to work with.”
Or it can be more stogie and, I hate to say it dull and everything but it can portray personality traits. And now granted Southwest Airlines, Southwest itself; the name itself doesn’t portray any kind of personality per say but they developed a reputation around it and now the name itself, Southwest Airlines—it denotes a fun airline.
It denotes a personality trait
- That’s fun,
- That’s vibrant,
- That is energetic,
- That is flexible,
- That is a little more loose than some of the more formal types of airlines that are out there.
So, your name can also be, help indicate and signify what kind of personality you bring to the table.
Then, it also could be a name that is around a Product.
- What do you offer?
- What are your offerings?
And the thing that I’d be careful about here is you might call it, Joe’s Data Drives or Joe’s Cleaning or Home Cleaning or something like that. And the challenge with that is it corrals you into that one single product. What happens if you think about it, we went from five and a quarter floppy disk; I know I’m dating myself here and there’s probably a whole lot of you going, “What’s a five and a quarter floppy inch disk?”; Five and a quarter disk to the three and a half inch disk to CD-ROMs to DVDs to Thumb Drives and now we really don’t use disk drives at all anymore.
But if I named my business so and so’s disk drive service or so and so’s disk drive supply house, we then limited the ability for us to market other products, to broaden our products and service offerings. And so, as much as your name can denote a specific product, service or offering; you want to be careful and think broader in the context of how that might limit you down the road if you want to expand your business, expand and grow your business either vertically or horizontally.
And then the last thing I think that it can also denote is this concept of Preferences or your past or tradition or who you’re going to serve. If you are specifically focusing on a specific market the name itself could drive you to that market. And so, and the only reason your name isn’t going to necessarily deal with all five of these all at one time but it could if you engineer it.
The fact of the matter is that some of these companies spend upwards of eighty or a hundred thousand dollars with a naming consultant to work through a whole matrix of different things to figure out: How do they come up with a name? For instance: The name like Compaq, a name like Accuview, a name like Acura, a name like even Olive Garden.
All of those names were done through a naming consultant firm and they spent a lot of money trying to make sure that they’ve got the right name
- That indicates the right identity.
- That indicates their position in the marketplace.
- What their personality is?
- What their product or offering or service or promise is?
- And what their preferences are?
- And what their past or tradition is?
So, you can get very, very complex and complicated and detailed in that naming process and be really, really be an expensive process, a time consuming process but a meaningful process. When you think about the name, for instance—Accuview, Accuview’s contact lenses and so Accuview. Just how they put it all together really starts to denote
- A certain personality,
- A certain product,
- A certain promise,
- A certain element to it.
So, it is important to think about it. Many times we don’t. Many times we just throw a name out there. But what I’m inviting you to do is to say,
- What’s my identity?
- What’s the position I want to place?
- What’s my personality that I want to portray?
- What’s the offering from a broad scale perspective that I might want to bring about?
- And what are my preferences?
And think about it in that way.
In order to help you let’s just talk through what I, the four steps, the four process steps that I think you can go through to build on your name—to come up with your name. And this will help you kind of bring this full circle, to bring this to life and say, “Alright, so what do I need to do? I want to go into business. I have an idea of what I want to offer but how do I name it? How do I know what that name should be? What process to go through?”
And so let’s just talk about the four steps and the first is what I call Priming or the Prime, the pump if you will.
This is about your preparation. This is about your pre-work. This is about collecting data and resources that you can use to help kind of, in the next stage which is called Propagate, to propagate a list of possible names.
This is the place where you start to set criteria of what you want the name:
- To indicate,
- To signify,
- To denote,
- To represent.
In your market,
To your market’s eyes,
To your customer’s eyes,
To your team’s eyes,
All of those things, this is the time to do it. And many times you’re going to find that the pre-work is where all the heavy lifting is done for a lot of things in business. And this is one of the elements is that we want to do all the pre-work up front. We want to look at our competitors names. We want to look at other people in the space because we don’t want to make sure…we want to make sure that we don’t confuse people by doing something that’s similar to another name in the space.
Once we collect the data in this stage, in the prime stage of it.
- We collect the data,
- We do the research,
- We set our criteria of what we’re looking for in the name.
Then it’s about Propagating:
- It’s about populating,
- It’s about getting that list together,
- It’s about brainstorming
With team members,
With outsiders to go through and say, “Let’s figure out a list”.
And when we talk about this, this isn’t about … it’s not about filtering the list at this point. We’re not saying good, bad or indifferent. We’re just going to take everything and throw it up on the wall for now. And we’re just going to see what sticks right now.
And many times away we do this is just with a bunch of Post-it notes. Start writing a name on a Post-it note and have everyone in the room start writing names on post-it notes. And if they want on the back of the post-it note they’ll write a justification for or the reason that they think it’s appropriate.
And we just stick them up on the wall and we stick them up on the wall and we see if there’s commonalities, common themes. We see if there’s a discussion to be had. If something resonates with other people and we start moving them around.
But this is what the propagate phase is. It’s simply getting a population of literally a couple hundred possible names if you want to go that far and to say, “Here’s what’s possible. Here’s what we’ve come up with.”
- Based upon customer input,
- Based on industry research,
- Based on our research,
- Based on brainstorming.
- Based on talking to family, friends and foes, and whatever you’ve talked to, to really come up with the name.
Then we move from propagate to this next stage which is the Process.
So now, we want to take that list and we want to whittle it down. We’re going to use the criteria that we set in stage 1 in the prime stage and we’re going to use that to start to whittle it down. To get down to maybe 5 to 10 maximum names to say, “These are the ones that we’re really going to hone in on. That we’re really going to dial down and make a decision.”
And one of the things that we do here is; is I take the criteria and this is the tool that you can download here with this episode. But you take the criteria and you list them out. I’m a CPA so a math person and you rank each name based on each criteria on a scale of 1 to 10. And the one with the highest score has got the highest satisfaction rate based upon the criteria that you set, if that makes sense.
So, if I say that uniqueness is one of them, relevancy to my market is another one, and you list, I would say 8 to 10 criteria, maybe even more, uniqueness, relevancy to my marketplace, and that it’s memorable. And so if I can rank those on those three criteria, I might have one that has an 8, a 10 and a 7. Well that’s twenty five.
I may have another one that has a 7, a 7 and a 7. That’s 21. Well the 25 is ranking higher on the set of criteria than the number 21. And what it does is it allows you to filter and prioritize them. Doesn’t mean that that’s the one you’re going to select because you’re going to need to do one other, a couple of other things too once you get down to this short, short list of maybe three names when we get done with it.
But this process stage is where you start to whittle things down based upon your criteria, based on ratings and rankings and scoring to the point where you’ve got three names that you’re looking at.
Then we move to this last stage which is To Protect the Name.
So, here’s what you need to do, is you need to do an additional search. You need to see if there’s anything else that’s named similar to yours that can cause confusion. You need to see if that word or those words that are out there have been used before and are already trademarked.
The way to do that is—at least in the US—you’re going to go to the US Patent and Trademark office. You’re going to do a search and in most countries you’ll have the ability to do something like this and do it on the internet. You want to search and make sure that your name is available.
That the words that you’ve chosen for your name are available because if you start down that process and you start to build a brand, the last thing you want to ever have happen is someone coming back and saying, “Wait a second, that’s the word or that’s the name or that’s my identity that I put out there and it’s trademarked” and now they can sue you, they can force you to change it, they can do all kinds of things that you don’t want to get involved with. So, let’s do the work up front. So, we’re going to search out and make sure that the words that you’re using or the name that you’re using isn’t already trademarked.
And second, I want to make sure that I have availability on the web; that you can get the proper URLs to make sure that you’ve got the ability to have that identity digitally also as well as legally in the marketplace. Now, let me clarity something about the legal aspect of it because I’ve had this happen a number of times where they said, “Well I created my corporation with my name. So I should be safe.”
And the answer is, “No, you may not be safe.” Just because you created a business entity based upon your name doesn’t mean that that name is protected in any way. You still will need to trademark it and make sure that you’ve legally protected the name even though you might have an entity that has the same name. Hopefully that makes sense to you.
So, we’re going to verify that you got the URLs. You’re going to verify that you’re not infringing on someone else’s trademark or someone else’s name and then you’re going to register it with the trademark office so other people can’t infringe on your brand and on your name.
So, that’s the process—prime, propagate, process and protect. That’s the process that you typically go through that’ll help you work through it. Download the tool to help you with that and let me give you just, before I leave this episode. Let me give you a couple of Do’s and don’ts.
And I’m going to start with the don’ts first because you want to be clear. You want to make sure that you have clarity and so, one of the first things in the don’ts is you want to make sure that that business name you choose has relevancy. That it’s not irrelevant and that’s not meaningless. It’s not just some flippant term out there that has no relevancy to the marketplace, the product offering, the customers or what you do.
I’d avoid strings of numbers and letters. Things that are meaningless: 123cards, 123gardening. They’re meaningless numbers and letters strung together that really don’t necessarily have any meaning. I would avoid those. You can always do it. I just, in my opinion I avoid it.
I’d be careful about geographically limiting yourself. So you might say for instance Down in San Diego and I say, San Diego vacuum cleaner sales. Well, or San Diego Psychology Institute, something like that. What you’re doing is you’re narrowing the scope of your marketplace to a specific geographic area. So, if you put San Diego in the name and someone’s in Arizona, they say, “Well they’re in San Diego only. I can’t do business with them”.
And I think that what we can understand in many, many businesses—geographic lines are no longer hard and fast lines. The geographic lines are blurred. We can have global access, we can have statewide access, we can have national access based upon technology today. So, be careful that your name doesn’t limit you geographically at least from a perception standpoint to your marketplace.
Also, when I mentioned this earlier, be careful about something that might limit your product or your service, at least how the offerings look in the context of that. So, be careful about if you’re going to go out there and represent yourself as only a single product or service then you have a little challenge with trying to broaden it later on. So, I would be cautious about that.
Long names are confusing names. Make it something that’s easy to remember, easy to spell. Listen, I met my wife, I met my wife in an airport and many of you’ve heard this story. I met my wife in an airport. She works for a pharmaceutical company and they took their … the family names that started this pharmaceutical company. And the name I got to tell you is so long that I think one of the tests that she put me through was that if I could spell the name right in the email address then she would at least talk to me and we might have a chance to go out on a date.
But it was a very long confusing spelling. I couldn’t even spell it today. We’ve been married now 4 years. And the fact of the matter is that you want your name to be something that is memorable and easy and not confusing. So, watch out for long names. Watch out for puns or play out words because you might get it but the marketplace may not. So, watch out for that.
And then be really, really careful of borrowing from other brands. Taking on a name that is similar to someone else in the marketspace or not even in the marketspace but someone that might say, “Wait a second they’re riding on our coat wings. They’re riding on our coattails and they’re trying to pull our traffic or our customers and they’re confusing our customers and you’re putting yourself in a potential position for litigation and you want to avoid that at all costs. So, be careful about borrowing from other brands.
So, what should you do?
Let’s make sure that the name is relatable to your customers, to your marketplace, to your team. Make sure that it’s concrete and descriptive and specific. So, it’s not some broad concept that people go, "Huh, what’s this about”.
Make sure that it’s attractive to the customers that you want. And remember I talked about preferences and positioning. So, if it’s for a specific niche, a specific customer group, and you can embed that in the name, it will strip away the customers that you don’t want.
Make sure that you’re careful about new spellings or new words. Now they get away with it in many cases. In fact Compaq Computer is a great example of that. They spelled Compaq C-O-M-P-A-Q versus Compact and it was for a very, for a portable computer back in the day. And Accuview is another one where they’re coming up with new words. Accura, it’s another one where they’re coming up with new words. So, be careful about it. You can use it but make sure that it’s memorable, make sure it’s understandable, make sure it’s easy to spell.
Keep it simple. Don’t get all convoluted and with too much there, too much thought in there, too much detail that is something that people can’t comprehend or they, not because it’s just too confusing. So, you want to keep it simple.
You want it to be web friendly. Remember, at some point they may have to type it into Google and everything. So, you want to be able to make it web friendly and a long name or a confusing name or misspellings of the name can be challenging. So, keep it web friendly.
And then make sure it’s protectable. In other words, do the search and make sure that you can trademark it. Do the search and make sure that you can protect it. Do the search because the last thing you ever want to do is build yourself a brand that it starts going gang busters. And then you find out that you’ve infringed on someone else and they’re going to enter the game and pull the rug right out from under you on your success.
So, hopefully those do’s and don’ts will help you a bit. And I’ve given you the process. Get the tool. I hope you’ve found this of value. This concept of what do I name my business. Some people just go in and say, “I just throw a name out there.”
But I think that we can put more thought into it. I invite you to put more thought into it. I invite you to think about that your name can represent a lot of different things in the marketplace, so you want to get it right. It’s something you’re going to live with for a long, long time.
And so, I hope you found this of value. Again, if you want to get the downloadable tool for this session go to MelAbraham.com/session027. Do me a favor. Do me a favor and share this with a friend. Share this with someone that is in business, going into business or someone that you think that this is of value to.
And if you haven’t done so already make sure you’re subscribed because I’m doing these on a regular basis. This is my way of being able to be in your back-pocket as your entrepreneurial mentor to help you build your business, design your business, grow your business, create wealth, create success and build a life that you’ve always wanted.
And if you have a question for me—business, success, wealth, entrepreneurial; whatever you have as a question, you can go to AskMelNow.com. Leave the question there. We’ll make sure that we get it answered on one of the upcoming episodes.
And so again if you’re not by your computer and you want to get the downloadable tool for this episode make sure that you text to 38470 MYLEGACY no-spaces 38470. And until we get a chance to see each other on the next episode,
May your vision be grand, your journey epic and your legacy significant!
See you soon. Cheers. Bye!!
— End Transcript —
Like this? Please share it and help a few more people bring their dreams out of the darkness and give life to them again. Cheers, Mel