What’s in a name? A lot, when it comes to small-business success. The right name can make your company the talk of the town. The wrong one can doom it to obscurity and failure. Ideally, your name should convey the expertise, value and uniqueness of the product or service you have developed.
Some experts believe that the best names are abstract, a blank slate upon which to create an image. Others think that names should be informative so customers know immediately what your business is.
Some believe that coined names (that come from made-up words) are more memorable than names that use real words. Others think they’re forgettable.
In reality, any name can be effective if it’s backed by the appropriate marketing strategy. Here’s what you’ll need to consider in order to give your small business the most appropriate and effective name.
Enlist Expert Help to Start
Coming up with a good business name can be a complicated process. You might consider consulting an expert, especially if you’re in a field in which your company name may influence the success of your business. Naming firms have elaborate systems for creating new names and they know their way around the trademark laws. They can advise you against bad name choices and explain why others are good.
The downside is cost. A professional naming firm may charge as much as $80,000 to develop a name. That generally includes other identity work and graphic design as part of the package, according to Laurel Sutton, a principal with Catchword Brand Name Development.
Naming services that charge as little as $50 do exist, but spending a reasonable amount of money early for quality expert advice can save you money in the long term.
What’s in a Name?
Start by deciding what you want your name to communicate. It should reinforce the key elements of your business. Your work in developing a niche and a mission statement will help you pinpoint the elements you want to emphasize in your name.
The more your name communicates to consumers about your business, the less effort you must exert to explain it. According to naming experts, entrepreneurs should give priority to real words or combinations of words over fabricated words.
People prefer words they can relate to and understand. That’s why professional namers universally condemn strings of numbers or initials as a bad choice.
On the other hand, it is possible for a name to be too meaningful. Common pitfalls are geographic or generic names. A hypothetical example is “San Pablo Disk Drives.”
What if the company wants to expand beyond the city of San Pablo, California? What meaning will that name have for consumers in Chicago or Pittsburgh? And what if the company diversifies beyond disk drives into software or computer instruction manuals?
How can a name be both meaningful and broad? Descriptive names tell something concrete about a business – what it does, where it’s located and so on. Suggestive names are more abstract. They focus on what the business is about.
Consider “Italiatour,” a name that was developed by one naming company to help promote package tours to Italy. Though it’s not a real word, the name is meaningful and customers can recognize immediately what’s being offered. Even better, “Italiatour” evokes the excitement of foreign travel.
When choosing a business name, keep the following tips in mind:
- Choose a name that appeals not only to you but also to the kind of customers you are trying to attract.
- Choose a comforting or familiar name that conjures up pleasant memories so customers respond to your business on an emotional level.
- Don’t pick a name that is long or confusing.
- Stay away from cute puns that only you understand.
- Don’t use the word “Inc.” after your name unless your company is actually incorporated.
At a time when almost every existing word in the language has been trademarked, the option of coining a name is becoming more popular. Some examples are Acura and Compaq, which were developed by naming firm NameLab.
Coined names can be more meaningful than existing words, says NameLab president Michael Barr. For example, “Acura” has no dictionary definition but the word suggests precision engineering, just as the company intended. NameLab’s team created the name Acura from “Acu,” a word segment that means “precise” in many languages.
By working with meaningful word segments (what linguists call morphemes) like “Acu,” Barr says the company produces new words that are both meaningful and unique.
Barr admits, however, that made-up words aren’t the right solution for every situation. New words are complex and may create a perception that the product, service or company is complex, which may not be true. Plus, naming beginners might find this sort of coining beyond their capabilities.
An easier solution is to use new forms or spellings of existing words. For instance, NameLab created the name Compaq when a new computer company came to them touting its new portable computer.
The team thought about the word “compact” and came up with Compaq, which they believed would be less generic and more noticeable.
Test Your Name
After you’ve narrowed the field to four or five names that are memorable and expressive, you are ready to do a trademark search.
Not every business name needs to be trademarked, as long as your state government gives you the go-ahead and you aren’t infringing on anyone else’s trade name. But you should consider hiring a trademark attorney or at least a trademark search firm before to make sure your new name doesn’t infringe on another business’s trademark.
To illustrate the risk you run if you step on an existing trademark, consider this: You own a new manufacturing business that is about to ship its first orders when an obscure company in Ogunquit, Maine, considers the name of your business an infringement on their trademark. It engages you in a legal battle that bankrupts your business.
This could have been avoided if sought out expert help. The extra money you spend now could save you countless hassles and expenses further down the road.
If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with three to five names that pass all your tests. Now, how do you make your final decision?
Recall all your initial criteria. Which name best fits your objectives? Which name most accurately describes the company you have in mind?
Some entrepreneurs arrive at a final decision by going with their gut or by doing consumer research or testing with focus groups to see how the names are perceived.
You can doodle an idea of what each name will look like on a sign or on business stationery. Read each name aloud, paying attention to the way it sounds if you foresee radio advertising or telemarketing in your future. Use any or all of these criteria.
Keep in mind that professional naming firms devote anywhere from six weeks to six months to the naming process. You probably won’t have that much time, but plan to spend at least a few weeks on selecting a name.
Once your decision is made, start building your enthusiasm for the new name immediately. Your name is your first step toward building a strong company identity, one that should last as long as you’re in business.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
3 Companies With Memorable Slogans, And How To Create Your Own
Three companies that have enjoyed these benefits as a result of creating memorable business slogans are Nike, Carlsberg, and Apple. Let’s look at each one now.
A good slogan serves many valuable roles in business. First, it reinforces recognition of your brand. After hearing it a few times, your consumer instantly thinks of you when hearing it again. If it’s catchy enough, they may even find themselves saying or singing it in their head, reinforcing your brand even more.
Slogans also share a little bit about your company. For instance, if your slogan is funny, it says you have a sense of humor. If it contains your goal or mission, it tells the consumer what is important to you. Some slogans share the problems the company is trying to solve or the consumer its trying to help, making it easier to identify the target market.
Finally, a slogan sets you apart from your competitors. It differentiates you from all of the other companies who offer similar services to you. And if it’s memorable enough, it puts you ahead of them in your consumer’s minds.
Three companies that have enjoyed these benefits as a result of creating memorable business slogans are Nike, Carlsberg, and Apple. Let’s look at each one now.
Company #1: Nike – Just Do It
Though many people use Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan as a reminder that they can do amazing things if they just put their mind to it, its author, Dan Wieden, reports that this line actually has a grim beginning.
In fact, it was an idea he derived from a statement made by Gary Gilmore, a double murderer who, before being executed by a firing squad exclaimed, “Let’s do it!” Still, it has stuck in consumer’s minds and is undoubtedly one of the most memorable slogans of all time.
Related: Registering a Trademark
Company #2: Carlsberg – That Calls for a Carlsberg
Initially, Carlsberg’s slogan was ‘probably the best beer in the world.’ Many consumers came to know and love this slogan; however, in 2011, the company rebranded and created a new slogan: ‘That Calls for a Carlsberg.” The goal of this new slogan, according to CEO Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen, was to encourage the consumer to do good things and then enjoy a Carlsberg after as a reward for a job well done. Both have stuck in the minds of consumers, albeit with some discrepancy as to which one is most preferred.
Company #3: Apple – Think Different
Apple is a company known for thinking (and creating) outside the lines, so its ‘Think Different’ slogan fits it perfectly. According to Rob Siltanen, creative director and managing partner at the company that helped design this Apple pitch, though there are many accounts of how this slogan was created, its true inventor is Craig Tanimoto. Siltanen says that Tanimoto came up with the idea to use black and white photos of some of the most revolutionary people and events of all time and, atop each one, simply display the words ‘Think Different.’ Catchy, right?
How to Create Your Own Memorable Slogan
These are just three examples of how creating a memorable slogan can help your company get — and stay — in the minds of your consumer. So, how do you come up with this type of campaign?
One option is to get some of your company’s best talent together and see what slogans you can come up with. Have everyone submit one or two ideas and talk them out. See if any jump out at you and, if not, use them to inspire you to come up with even more possible ideas.
Another alternative is using a slogan generator. This enables you to come up with a simple, memorable slogan using keywords related to your brand. Just go through the list and of results and see which ones stand out. You could even pick your top two or three and let your social media followers vote as to which one you should select.
If you find yourself at a dead end and unable to come up with a memorable slogan, or if you lack the creativity or the time, you can also hire a marketing firm to help. Give them a little insight about your company and see what slogans they create. It may cost you some money to take this route but, as companies like Nike, Carlsberg, and Apple have taught us, a good slogan can really propel your brand.
Dear Family And Friends Of Entrepreneurs…
Young entrepreneurs often struggle to establish their businesses as they are not getting the support they need. Sometimes it is not only the obvious support of financiers and supply change developers which is lacking –but also not having that critical “home-ground support” can negatively affect the success of your venture. How can family and friends support entrepreneurs?
Entering the market as a newbie entrepreneur is a brave step, and having your family and friends share in your vision for success is critical. Once you have convinced them that being an entrepreneur is in fact “a real job” – one that requires a lot more sacrifices and hard work than a salaried worker – you can continue to encourage them to support your journey, to ultimately share in your success.
Get a job
In some communities, being an entrepreneur is not recognised as a profession. Therefore, those who pursue enterprise development are seen as irresponsible or lazy as it is not regarded as ‘real’ employment. Societal pressure to attain certain material possessions thus prevents them from pursuing their true passion.
This kind of resistance discourages a lot of entrepreneurs, making their pursuit for success even more difficult.
Finding out who your real friends are
Financial support is the most obvious support needed by entrepreneurs due to a lack of capital and start-up funding, as well as irregular payments and long periods of being cashless due to procurement holdups and fluctuation in the market for your product or service. Not everyone will stick with you in these times – and that’s OK. You may end up finding out who your real friends are, and these are the people who will give you emotional and social support to keep you focused and motivated.
“I know a guy….”
Another issue is friends and family looking for discounted prices as they know the owner. This means that they don’t see the value of the product or service, nor do they respect the owner. By asking for products and services for free, or at a reduced price, they end up taking advantage of their relationship with the entrepreneur and do not financially support his/her the business.
So, if you have friends or family who are business owners, set an example by supporting them in the following ways:
- Be willing to pay the full price of the product or service offered.
- Be kind when giving negative feedback – make sure it is constructive.
- Compliment them on good products or service. Share positive reviews on your social media pages.
- Share and promote their business among other people.
- Be patient and willing to help them establish their businesses.
Be prepared to listen to their dreams, hopes and frustrations. Sometimes, they just need an ear to vent about a bad day. Support them with a word of encouragement to keep going.
Why Embrace The Struggle?
Entrepreneurial success hinges on your ability to approach challenges with the right mindset.
Self-help and business coaching advice is littered with platitudes, which makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to know what they should take to heart. However, one universal truism that most successful entrepreneurs attribute to their success is their willingness and ability to endure the struggle.
It’s a lesson I learnt first-hand when building our ad-tech and Facebook Marketing Partner business, Popimedia. One of our sternest tests came when we moved into new premises and took on more staff to accommodate our exponential growth. Then, amid new and significant financial commitments, some of our pipeline never materialised.
It was at this time that my son was born, and our family had just moved into a new house. To preserve the business, we were forced into retrenchments and directors didn’t take a salary for a while. And, with a lower head count it became difficult to deliver on client deadlines. Needless to say, my personal and professional level of discomfort was at an all-time high.
We reviewed our operations and streamlined where we could. More importantly, though, the experience taught us a number of invaluable lessons.
Lesson #1: Reframe your context
Our leadership approach, our business mindset and our attitude needed to be drastically reframed.
There is a quote that has always stuck with me, which is: “The antithesis of comfort is struggle.”
I believe a person is moulded by the way they deal with struggle. That’s why I’ve always been inclined to welcome a proverbial punch to the face, and use as a mantra the phrase, “comfortable being uncomfortable”.
Being “uncomfortable” forced Popimedia into rapid innovation – and it was this innovation that led to a sea-change in the business. We learned how to scale, how to improve service levels, how to do what we do better, faster, more efficiently.
As a result, and without increasing our staff complement, our year-on-year growth has topped 100%. What was, at the time, the business’s greatest challenge became its greatest ally, and our biggest lesson.
Lesson #2: Fail fast, and learn from it
Obviously, this approach is not about making life difficult for the sake of personal and professional growth. It’s about understanding what is: expecting it to be difficult and taking a constructive approach towards failure and struggle.
There is one guarantee in business: you will experience failures, and you will struggle.
Central to this is your ability to recognise your failures for what they are, and quickly. This allows for a rejigging of processes, attitudes, operations, and sometimes even objectives.
My personal attitude to failure was reframed by simple sales stats. I came to understand that rejection was inevitable – but when it does happen, it brings with it opportunities. I always ask: “Why don’t you want my product? How is it not meeting your needs?” This way, “failure” is transformed into an opportunity to better understand the market and my clients.
This feedback loop has proved crucial, and allowed us to become what we are.
As an entrepreneur, the pressure never ends and you’ll never ‘arrive’. At Popimedia, we’ve come to embrace every opportunity that takes us out of our comfort zone. Working through failure is the foundation on which the entrepreneurial spirit is forged. It is the willingness to try again following a rejection, or to keep grafting knowing that there’s no guarantee of a pay cheque at the end of the month.
And doing so with the ‘chutzpah’ – the sheer audacity – to endure the hardship through mental toughness and a passion for what you do, becomes your greatest asset, because when you get comfortable, you become complacent… and complacency will work you into irrelevance.
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