Bop Announces Tips on Naming Your Business for Entrepreneurs

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Business Principal Jeremy Durant comments on Martha Stewart American Made panel, provides insights on how to name a small business and importance of branding.

The right name can trigger interest, get some buzz going and pave the way to customer interaction. The wrong name fails to register on anyone’s radar or, worse, becomes known for all the wrong reasons.

At a recent event sponsored by Martha Stewart American Made, a panel of entrepreneurs debated the advantages and drawbacks of building a brand around the founder’s name. Although the strategy has been enormously successful for Martha Stewart, the panelists noted the risks for smaller businesses, most notably that “a brand named after a person can be much harder to scale.”

The Martha Stewart panel highlights the importance of choosing the right name for a business.

“The name of your business is literally the first thing most prospective customers learn about you,” said Jeremy Durant, business principal at Bop Design, a small business marketing agency in San Diego. “The right name can trigger interest, get some buzz going and pave the way to customer interaction. The wrong name fails to register on anyone’s radar or, worse, becomes known for all the wrong reasons.”

So while entrepreneurs focus time and resources on developing their new product or service, they shouldn’t leave the business name to the last minute and then go with whatever “feels right.” Take time to consider possible options and bounce the best ideas off trusted friends and advisors.

Durant’s advice continues on what to avoid as part of the naming process:

1) Base the name on your product or service. “This may seem like a good starting point, but it can end up hurting you in the long run,” he said. “Perfect Plumbing Supplies” sounds good when the business is small, but as it grows and eventually expands its range of offerings (e.g. designer bathroom décor) the name becomes limiting and misleading.

2) Do what everyone else does. “There may be other brand names within your industry that are particularly well-known, and you think, why not use a slight variation and piggy-back on their brand-name recognition?” Durant said. “What ends up happening in the minds of your target audience is the idea that there’s nothing particularly distinctive about you or your business. And if your brand can’t be differentiated from the competition, what reason does anyone have to buy from you?”

3) Use the owner’s name or family initials. A name like “Arnold Liefstater Furniture” carries no meaning or resonance outside of a small circle of cousins, aunts, and uncles. Also, the name is difficult for prospective customers to either spell or pronounce correctly.

4) Incorporate your city or region in the name. Like basing the name on a product, a geographic strategy for naming a business is unnecessarily limiting. “Newark Pet Grooming” says nothing about the quality or distinctiveness of the service—only that residents of Newark might decide to check it out. Should the business later choose to expand and/or relocate elsewhere, a name based on a city or area can actually become a liability.

5) Get too many people involved. “Choosing a name for your business is not something you want decided by committee,” Durant noted. “The process can drag out interminably and you may end up selecting a name solely on the basis that a majority of the 35 people you consulted deemed it ‘OK’.” A better option is running the best ideas past a handful of close professional advisors or a select number of individuals in the target market.

6) Move forward without checking trademark status. These days, it’s easy enough to conduct a free online search of existing, trademarked business names. Start with a local search and then expand the geographic range to make sure no other business in the country has already claimed the name.

“Finding the right name for your business will take time, but the long-range consequences are enormous,” said Durant. If the task seems insurmountable, consider enlisting the services of a branding agency with knowledge of your intended market.”

Bop Design is a San Diego web design agency with offices also in Orange County, CA and the New York metro area. Specializing in B2B marketing, Bop Design creates holistic marketing plans geared toward lead generation and business development. Bop Design offers services in branding, logo design, website design and development, responsive web design, SEO, PPC, social media, and content marketing.

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Jeremy Durant

Jeremy Durant
Bop Design
since: 10/2009
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