Naming a product or a company is a difficult decision. Unlike most challenges you’ll face, this is one field in which virtually everyone claims expertise. The first thing to remember when naming something is not to rely too heavily on another’s advice. Names created by committee are usually losers. Don’t forget about the law. Your name
Naming a product or a company is a difficult decision. Unlike most challenges you’ll face, this is one field in which virtually everyone claims expertise. The first thing to remember when naming something is not to rely too heavily on another’s advice. Names created by committee are usually losers.
Don’t forget about the law.
Your name can cause a big problem if you don’t first conduct a legal name search. The last thing you want is to hit it big, then be forced to change your name because a tiny company has the same name and wants $100 million from you for the rights to it.
Make a list of what you want your name to stand for
Your name should reflect your name and your positioning. You must decide what you want your name to imply. It’s usually the first thing your prospects learn about you.
A positive ring
Avoid anything negative. Your name should make people enthusiastic and optimistic about working with you.
Avoid difficult names
If people have trouble pronouncing it or spelling it, they won’t remember it.
Make your name unique
You don’t want people confusing you with a business that already exists, especially if it’s one with a poor reputation.
Avoid limiting your scope
Acme Sleep Shop will limit you to selling sleep products. Acme Interiors is more open to expansion.
Don’t get caught up in trends or fads
While it may be profitable in the short run, you can’t ride a fad for the long haul, and you need to focus on the long haul.
Now that you’ve got a list, you’ve got to make a decision. Do you want a name that’s descriptive, generic, or fanciful? Any lawyer will tell you that a fanciful name is the best sort of trademark. It’s the easiest to protect from encroachment by competitors, and eventually it makes the strongest name. A fanciful name is one where no picture comes to mind. No one knows what Konga looks like.
The problem with fanciful names is that it doesn’t begin by positioning the product or the company. So a fanciful name is too expensive to develop into an asset.
The second alternative, which is more difficult to protect, is a descriptive name. These names help position your company or product, and they telegraph information about what you do. Some examples:
- Speedy Muffler
- Ultimate Auto Body
Descriptive names communicate enough about your product to help the sale, but they’re unique, stick in the customer’s mind, and help stop the competition.
Lastly, you can use a generic name. These names cannot be protected most times, but they have the ability to immediately telegraph what your business does.
Some generic names include:
- International Business Machines
- U.S. Steel
- Park Avenue Cleaners
- General Foods
As you can see, sometimes a generic name takes off and works, but in general, it’s an uphill battle–you’ve positioned your company, but your company has no identity.
Examples of Good Names
Staples: a simple word that brings together a ubiquitous office supply with another word for “essentials.” Once learned, the user never forgets what it stands for.
Apple Computer: simple, friendly, basic, easy to remember
Written by Seth Godin