What’s In a Name?

August 3, 2015

We recently had the privilege of being published in Inc. Magazine for my tips on what business owners should consider when choosing a name for their company. Within the article, I simplify the process with a few key points.

When choosing a name for your company, you want to use something that not only leaves an impression, but also establishes you as credible in the marketplace. A company’s name is just a word or cluster of words that can make or break someone’s first impression of that brand. After it’s created, the company must then put their own spin on what it means to them. An apple was just a fruit until the company revolutionized it. I’ve found it effective in the past to keep a name short, concise and reflective to what the company stands for.

When a company revolutionizes a name, it will spark conversations making both the name and the brand memorable within the mind of the consumer. You should try to to stay away from long-winded names; instead, you want something simple and catchy. In some cases a rebranding study may show a need for a change of your name. For example, IBM is a much easier to remember than International Business Machines. Not always, but often, companies with short and concise names are the most memorable; Ford, Nike, Apple, GMC, etc.

Enlisting the help of an experienced marketer can usually help you get to your projected result faster. But, there’s always an exception to the rule. Sometimes, the obvious just becomes more obvious after extensive research has been done. In one instance, we had a client approach us with a name selected before we underwent their branding study. We invested approximately 50 hours working on a name, finally coming back to what the client originally had. In some cases, your first instinct can ultimately be what’s best for the brand.

One thing to be aware of when choosing a business name is to not compare you and your company with your competition. Many times I have advised clients not to proceed with a name because of their competitors position. It’s easy to reference what appears to be working for someone else and want to use it for your own growth. Unlike the philosophy, “anybody can do it like everybody,” at group46, we are committed to finding unique positions for our brands.

You also don’t want to try and be extremely literal in choosing your business name, unless you are going to live and die by that name. Something like “The Print Wholesalers” is boring and not at all memorable, unless it’s in the brand’s best interest to be particularly specific. In most cases, however, you want something much more captivating and less generic.

Before making your final name decision, you should also check multiple definitions of the words used in your name, in several languages, to make sure no stone is left unturned. The Ford Pinto had a tough time in the Brazilian market because of the slang term Pinto.

Lastly, you should always ensure that the majority of your company’s branding process has been completed prior to your final decision. This ensures that the personality and values of each team member, as well as the company as a collaborative whole, are accurately reflected within the name.

The full Inc. Magazine article can be found at