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12 Tips to Create the World's Greatest Name

12 Tips to Create the World's Greatest Name

March 19, 2008

Coming up with a name for a baby is a huge deal. There seems to always be so much riding on it. And everyone seems to have an opinion about their favorites so the name becomes as secretive as the Manhattan Project!

Baby names have even become big business for some entrepreneurs who charge $350 to help couples come up with a name for their bundle of joy. Go to Amazon.com and there are hundreds of books to help you name your baby. I lost track after the Astrological Book of Baby Names, The World's Coolest Baby Names and Unfortunate Baby Names by Uncas Slattery (I have to check that one out sometime!)

Do a search for naming your business, however, and only 13 books come up on Amazon. Granted, not as many people are naming a business but it seems odd that with so much riding on the name of a business that there wouldn't be more guidance available.

Naming a business is big business in itself with some firms charging as much as $75,000 to help you. Why? Because your business' name is critical to your success. It should be as valuable as your assets. Financial analysts even put a premium on the name of a business. It's that valuable. Why else would business names be protected by trademarks?

Your 'other' most important asset

Yet, I find many small and mid-size business owners don't put nearly enough thought into a name. They believe a name is really only important for the 'big guys.' WRONG! You may not have billions of dollars riding on your name, but aside from your products or services it really is one of the most important assets you have!

Your name tells customers who you are, what you're about, what you're not and what you can offer ' all in one or two words! Sounds overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be.

I've developed a process to help my clients create a name for their business or products.'

Coming up with the perfect name

One of my favorite names for a business, which isn't up on the web yet, is called Boring But Brilliant. That's a great name! It's intriguing, it's memorable and it stands out. Perfect! Most business names don't do any of those things.

12 Tips to help you

1. Decide what kind of names you like and don't like. For instance, Verizon is a name some people like because it's so different. Others may not like it because it doesn't mean anything and doesn't convey a message to prospects. Unstucking is another name a lot of people love because it's not a word you usually hear, but it tells a prospect exactly what the business is about and you'll remember it.

2. Look for ways you can make your business the biggest. Can you make your coffee shop the world's biggest or can you offer the world's greatest furniture showroom? What makes it the greatest? Or perhaps you can promote the fact that it's the smallest. We have a local car dealer who advertises his 'world famous 1-1/2 car showroom.'

3. Make sure you can associate it with a dot-com. When coming up with a name, it should be something that you can use in your domain name. If you have a great name and can't use it in your url, move on and come up with another name that will also work as a domain name.

4. Be sure your name has some scalability. As you grow and as your business evolves, you want your name to grow with you too. For example, Domino's Pizza was smart not to add the promise of a 30-minute delivery in its name because their workers were accused of driving recklessly to keep their promise. They even had to drop their promise: Guaranteed delivery within 30 minutes or it's free. Good thing they didn't include it in the name. As technology changes so do business names. As International Business Machines Corp. moved from manufacturing to computer technology and consulting, it changed its name to just IBM.

5. Your name should also have a POOBA (Promise of an Obvious and Overt Benefit Always). That's what I like about Business GPS. It's overt and includes the promise that it will help guide your business. FedEx is another great overt name and it tells you what the business is about.

6. Keep it simple. It may even help you simplify your business. The naming of Boring But Brilliant that I told you about earlier, led to a retooling process that helped the owner simplify the business. As a result, the business is now bringing in more than $500,000 a year in revenue!

7. Avoid cute and clever! That's a big mistake I see owners make all the time. The problem with cute and clever is that it doesn't tell anyone what you're about.

8. Make sure it's memorable! Names like Google and Yahoo! are certainly memorable. But they also have a downside to them because they don't really tell you what they do. Which brings me to my next point

9. Determine how you're going to judge the names. You may want your business to be memorable and may not be as concerned with telling prospects what you do. If so, that's fine. But be clear when judging the value of the names what's important to you and to your market.

10. Your name should be a head-turner. It should make someone walking by or scanning the ads to stop and look. It should grab a prospect's attention.

11. Make sure it has a Big Zig. Your Big Zig is what sets you apart from the competition so while others zag in the marketplace, you zig. Motley Fool, for example, has a Big Zig with its contrarian investment advice. And this brings me to my last point '

12. Your name should include a story behind it. A Big Zig, like the Motley Fool, invites prospects to ask, 'What's this company about?' You want to tell a story based on your name. Your story is a powerful part of your brand that should be reflected in your name. You've heard me talk about Lumpy Mail before and the name itself makes you want to find out more about it. Check it out for yourself at www.LumpyMail.com.

Let me be clear. Not every name is going to have all 12 of these elements in it. But you do want to figure out what's important to you in a name and what's not important before you launch into your naming process. It may take days or weeks before you come up with a winner. But when you do, you've got gold!

Taking you from where you are to where you want to go.


Jon Goldman

P.S. Got a favorite name for a business? Send it to me at JonGoldman@BrandLauncher.com. I'd love to hear about it.