The name game
Sunday, September 5, 2010/
There are countless examples of brilliantly named businesses that have captured our hearts.
The founders of Google, Nudie Juice and Apple chose great business names that have become part of our vernacular as each business has boomed over the last decade.
And there’s no reason that the next generation of start-ups can’t name their business something equally as memorable.
Anthony Gregorio, CEO of famed advertising agency Euro RSCG says a brand can be made or broken on a good name.
“Your business name has the ability to leave a real impression with your clients, so choose very carefully. But no one rule applies to any particular category when naming a business; you’ve just got to keep workshopping it until you find the right one.”
Start by reading your business plan, suggests Carlo Tarquinio, strategy director of Melbourne communications and branding agency, Trout Creative Thinking, which has named more than 100 products and services.
Developing a name is part science and part art, he says.
“There are a number of approaches that work for different businesses and different markets. Many businesses opt for a descriptive name that literally describes what they offer, while others choose an emotional name that describes the benefit of the product or services. Others use an interesting, different or fun word for impact, and some make up a unique, proprietary word,” Tarquinio says.
Whether you’ve got no budget or a big budget, make sure there’s a rationale behind the naming of your business, he says.
“You’ve got to look at who your market is, what your business stands for, who your competitors are, and where your business is headed. The name needs to be relevant, meaningful and preferably differentiated. It’s great if there’s a story behind the name that both staff and customers can get into to connect better with your business and your brand.”
Clever names win more business
You might also want to consider injecting humour in your business name. A recent survey found that most businesses opt for straightforward or obvious names, with Taylor Made common among people with the surname Taylor. Business names ending in ‘it’ was also found to be a popular choice for IT professionals – such as Fix IT and Reboot IT.
But businesses that choose an outlandish name are winning more work that those with boring names.
The survey of online jobs tendering site ServiceSeeking.com.au compared the names of the 28,000-plus small business registrants to see if those with the most unusual names were winning the most tenders.
Site co-founder, Jeremy Levitt, says the survey found that humorously named businesses that quote well and follow up with clients are more successful. “People appreciate sweat equity going into the creation of a brand.”
A tiling service called Great Lay Tiling and a handyman business named Men Behaving Handy are both winning more work that their competitors, with their name helping them stand out from a crowd, Levitt says.
Amber Leschke, co-owner of Great Lay Tiling says she set out to create a catchy name that would give people a laugh.
“I believe our name creates a more personal, friendly rapport with our customers, which in turn generates excellent word-of-mouth business opportunities for us.”
Tim Junuid from plumbing business Rainman agrees. Although the popular 80s film wasn’t actually the inspiration behind his business name, he’s been riding on the coattails of the famed flick since launching his business.
“Customers joke about the name all the time and hand me numbers to calculate.”
Don’t sail too close to the wind
But you do need to be careful not to step on anyone’s toes when naming your business.
Troy Harris runs a Melbourne-based business that educates and mentors first time property developers. He wanted a fun name that also made it clear what line of work he was in.
“The first name we chose was Virgin Developer. We registered the trading name, booked in the web domain and launched the name at a business function on a Monday night. By 10am the following morning we had been approached by Virgin asking us to change the name. We weren’t looking to take on an international giant like that so we went back to the drawing board.”
Harris instead opted for Rookie Developer.
“What we teach is serious, but we still wanted our brand to be a bit of fun.”
Jack FitzGerald recently launched online courier comparison business ship2anywhere.com.au.
Choosing a business name was the biggest hurdle because it needed to be registered as a domain name.
“Unfortunately all the good domain names are taken so we had to do some serious business name brainstorming.”
The legal advice
WA-based trademark solicitor Nada Maltaric says there’s a lack of knowledge about intellectual property. Anyone creating a new business needs to understand the bare essentials of branding and trademarks, she says.
And remember that how people interpret what is a similar to another business name will vary.
“You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive first, so why would you launch a business without doing some research around the business name?”
Government website www.ipaustralia.com.au offers advice on registering a trademark and what steps you need to take, she says.
“When you don’t have the funds to spend on legal advice, then at least make sure you do some of your own research.”
Maltaric is regularly approached by businesses that have been trading under a name for some time before receiving a legal letter asking them to change their business name.
“If these businesses had spent time doing some market research in the first place they wouldn’t be in that position. Often, these people aren’t even plugging their chosen business name into a Google search to see who else is using it, which should be your first port of call.”
But Google didn’t save Melbourne vertical gardening business Lushe. Technical manager Josh Engwerda says he and his business partner were looking for a unique one word domain name that symbolised urban greening that could be trademarked. He Googled the name before registering the domain, but wishes he’d also checked Google Images.
“We’ve since found that Lushe is the name of a famous anime porn character.”
Tarquinio advises businesses to invest the time coming up with a suitable name.
“It’s very hard to undo a bad name. It’s very costly to rebrand a business, and rebrands don’t always work that well.”
Maltaric agrees. “I’ve seen what happens when a business needs to change names after a legal battle. It can be devastating and can wipe out a business. It’s far better to get the name right in the first place.”