Not easy find­ing a name for your firm

East African Business Week - - BUSINESS -

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 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.

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 you a for­tune to de­velop a name. That gen­er­ally in­cludes other iden­tity work and graphic de­sign as part of the pack­age, Nam­ing ser­vices that charge the min­i­mum do ex­ist, but spend­ing a rea­son­able amount of money early for qual­ity ex­pert ad­vice can save you money in the long term.

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 ‘Madembe Disk Drives.’

What if the com­pany wants to ex­pand be­yond your lo­cal­ity of Madembe?

What mean­ing will that name have for con­sumers in Nairobi or Bu­jum­bura? 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 ‘Tan­za­tour,’ a name that was de­vel­oped by one nam­ing com­pany to help pro­mote pack­age tours to Tan­za­nia (hy­po­thet­i­cal). Though it’s not a real word, the name is mean­ing­ful and cus­tomers can rec­og­nize im­me­di­ately what’s be­ing of­fered. Even bet­ter, ‘Tan­za­tour’ evokes the ex­cite­ment of for­eign travel.

When choos­ing a business name, keep the fol­low­ing tips in mind:

only to you but also to the kind of cus­tomers you are try­ing to at­tract.

name that con­jures up pleas­ant mem­o­ries so cus­tomers re­spond to your business on an emo­tional level.

or con­fus­ing.

only you un­der­stand.

your name un­less your com­pany is ac­tu­ally in­cor­po­rated.

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