Choosing a company name is a lot like naming a child. Entrepreneurs take their time poring over it, trying to find that one combination of letters that will encapsulate the entirety of the company into a word.
This is understandable; after all, while any name will eventually work out if it’s backed up with a solid marketing strategy, the right name can make your company the talk of the town – and the wrong one can make it a flop.
How then can you prime your company for success, starting with its name? Here are some (time-tested tips and tricks) to help you start on the right foot.
Where can I go for help?
The first is simple: you don’t need to suffer alone. There are plenty of naming experts and it’s highly advisable you hire them, especially if your field of specialty is critical of company names. Naming firms have elaborate systems for the creation of new names, and they are also well-versed with trademark laws. That is hitting two birds in one stone: finding someone who can help you find that perfect name, while avoiding trademark violations.
A disadvantage to this, however, is the cost involved. Professional naming firms are expensive, and they charge as much as $80,000 to develop a name, graphic design, and identity work. You can find services that charge as little as $50, but quality expert advice on your name is still worth getting.
What does your name say about you?
Your name should reinforce key elements of your business. Developing a mission statement may help you pinpoint the elements you want to emphasize in your name.
The more your name communicates the nature of your business to your consumers, the less effort you will need to exert to explain it.
To establish that instant communication, entrepreneurs are advised to give priority to real words or a combination of words over invented ones. People prefer words that they can relate to and understand – this is why professional namers condemn strings of numbers or initials.
Be wary of putting too much specific meaning into your name, though – overly geographic or generic names will have limited reach. If, for example, you name your company Dubai Computers, it won’t be able to reach out to consumers in the other Emirates – and what would you do if you want to diversify beyond computers to other kinds of technology?
Before it was named better, there was once a company named Cadabra – but people frequently missed out on how it was a part of the phrase abracadabra, and they had a difficult time spelling it. So the owner changed the company’s name, and it is now known as Amazon.
So how can a name be both meaningful and broad? Abstract, suggestive names focus on what the business is about, while descriptive names explain something concrete about a business – what it does, or where it’s located.
Consider Spotify, the popular digital music service. It stems from the two words spot and identify, both referring to the application’s massive music database and its ability to stream almost any song.
In addition to the information above, keep the following quick tips in mind:
- Choose a name that is appealing to both you and your target audience.
- Choose a name that prompts your customers to respond on an emotional level.
- Make it short.
- Avoid puns only you can relate to.
How can you give it a bit of a twist?
It’s 2017, and nearly impossible to find a word in the universal language that isn’t trademarked – so the option of coining a name is becoming more popular. Coined names can be more meaningful than existing words, depending on the semantics involved in the creation of it.
George Eastman, founder of Kodak, loved the letter K and believed that it carried a certain punch and effectiveness the other letters could not. After experimenting with several combinations of words starting and ending with K, he eventually coined Kodak’s name in 1892.
One hundred years later, his legacy continues to endure in photography and popular culture.
Test your name
After you’ve cut the list down to your top five choices, you are now ready to get trademarked. Not all business names need to be trademarked – as long as your state government allows you and you aren’t infringing on anyone else’s trade name, you get to use it. However, it’s best to play it safe and hire a trademark attorney to make sure your new name does not infringe on another company’s trademark.
The extra money put into the trademark could save you from legal hassles and expenses.
There are specific rules for choosing a name for a company setup in Dubai. Read our article on DED Trade Name Guidelines for more detailed information on this. Also, while there is no universal naming rules convention followed, these guidelines would be applicable in most Emirates and free zones in the UAE.
What’s the decision?
If things go well, you’ll end up with a handful of names that passed all the previous tests. So how will you make your final decision?
Revisit your initial criteria, the ones you had before you started the process of finding a name. Which one best fits your objectives? The one that most accurately describes the company you have in mind?
You can try doing consumer research or testing with focus groups to see how the names are perceived. You can also doodle an idea of what each name will look like on a sign or on business stationary. Enunciate the name carefully, paying attention to how it sounds and imagine hearing about it in radio advertising or telemarketing.
If you decide on a professional naming firm, keep in mind that they can take up to six months on 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 the name has been chosen, build up on it immediately! Your name is the first step towards building a strong company identity – one that should last for as long as you want it to.