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Bootstrap Marketing for Startups
Naming a Company (part 1 of 4)
So… you have a new business. : )
Statistically speaking, you also have a lack of funds to spend on marketing. But fear not—good ideas come in many shapes and sizes. For my friends at CBIC, here’s a quick guide to set you on your way to looking like a real company in 2015. The essentials are: a name, logo, website and business card. I’ll cover each in a series of posts.
There are a few elemental forms that a name may take: eponymous, descriptive and fictional. You may see combinations of these forms as well.
Eponymous is the quickest for me to explain and for you to execute. Put your name on some letterhead and call it a day. Examples: Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Hoffman-La Roche. The next simplest is to take your name, add a word to it, then call it a day, e.g. Blossman Pharmaceuticals. You can do this with places as well: Boston Scientific.
Descriptive names are very common and typically neither unique nor inspired: Central Battery, Mid-Atlantic Fasteners, Healthy Living Directory. Depending on your market and geography, you may have trademark issues down the road. Consider if you can live with that in your business planning stages.
Fictional names are those you make up. These may offer some hint of the business — Family Dollar, Burger King — or no real insight at all — Starbucks, Skype, Target, nTelos. If you go with a fictional name, you will serve your brand well by having a back story that tells how your name came into being. In all cases, the name should be unique, easy to pronounce and easy to visualize. Finding it available as a domain name is even better.
Often the biggest challenge in deciding on a name is the realization on your part that the name is real, valid and will be accepted by others, even if it sounds strange at first. Obviously, you want a pick a name you like and that doesn’t have unflattering connotations. Check with some friends, family and people in your target market to make sure it doesn’t bring up any of those negatives. Check with the state corporation commission and then check to see if the web domain is available. After such due diligence, you’ll need to take the last leap of faith and believe that it will be accepted by others.
Finally, you should know this and take heart: outsiders typically accept a name sooner than the owner of the name.