What’s in a name?

In Romeo & Juliet Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose

by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Perhaps.  But if the rose were called the stinkweed, there may not be anyone who would even attempt to smell it.  When it comes to a company or product, the name may not be everything, but it is close.  What good will it do to have the best product or service available if no one is attracted or intrigued enough by the name to try it?

Entertainers have always known the importance of a name. Consider these famous folks who changed their names to be more appealing to the public:

  • Alan Alda was born Alphonso D’Abruzzo.
  • Bobby Darin’s given name was Walden Robert Cassotto.
  • John Wayne sounds much more rugged than Marion Michael Morrison.
  • Queen Latifah appeals as a hip-hop artist much more than Dana Owens.
  • Iconic Cher needs only the shortened version of Cherilyn Sarkisian to be remembered.
  • A “Rebel Yell” comes more appropriately from Billy Idol than from William Michael Albert Broad.

Similarly, the right name can make all the difference when it comes to putting a new product or business on the map or it getting lost in the vast sea of offerings. You cannot afford to settle for a “good” name—you need the RIGHT one. The name of your business or product needs to represent everything you are, squeezed into a few letters or words. In seconds, it has to tell the potential customer who you are, what you stand for and why they need you. Think about the 1,000s of product and company names consumers are bombarded with on a weekly basis.

Because of this, there are certain qualities that should be considered in the naming process. Here are a few

1) Uniqueness.

Avoid using a name that is already in the marketplace, even if it is used by a company in a completely different industry. These days, web presence is essential; therefore, the more unique the name, the more likely the domain will be available and the less likely there will be confusion with the public.

2) Brevity.

People drive past businesses or billboards at a high speed and cruise the internet at an even faster pace. Customers need to be able to read the name and remember it. Keeping it brief helps on both counts. Examples are Nike, Tiffany’s, Apple. But DO NOT use initials. They don’t mean anything and are difficult to remember for most people.

3) A positive impression.

This is done in a number of ways through branding, but as it relates to naming, make sure the word(s) used do not have a negative connotation in the public’s mind. This includes researching what the name may mean in another language, because in our U. S. melting pot, you don’t want to offend potential clients’ whose first language is not English.

4) Longterm thinking.

Your new business may be starting with one product, but you may add product lines down the road. Make sure the name of your company does not limit its growth.

These qualities, among others, always should be considered in business-related naming. The process can be a bit daunting to entrepreneurs. That is why investing in the contracting of a professional in the branding industry to help determine your company’s or product’s name is always a smart move. They know all the ins and outs of the process. They know how to research your industry and potential names. They know what sounds good. They know that “a rose by any other name” may never be picked.

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