Does anyone have ideas on naming a new business? Is your own name good to use, or should you think of something different? Does it really make a bit of difference?
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor P:
There are three primary ways to name a company, and you can multiply the options by bridging two of them together in some cases.
1. You can name a company for a product or process. That's the weakest, unless the product has a long life-expectancy, and you are the only provider.
2. You can name a company for an individual or family along with the product or process.
3. You can name a company for a product or process and a locale.
Those three are what produce names like "Discount Cabinets", "Jim Smith Woodworking" and "Tri-City Millwork." The problem is that none of those are really memorable. And that's the key element in creating the most powerful name, which becomes the brand for your business. Small businesses rarely create a product or service offering that's a brand in itself. What gets branded for a small business is the business itself. So naming the company is a critical exercise.
If you focus on a memorable name, it won't have much in common with the versions above. Since customers will confuse "Quality Cabinets" with "Discount Cabinets", and "John's Cabinets" with "Johnson Custom Cabinetry", you'd be wise to steer clear.
If you also consider how you're going to turn the company name into something visual, a logo that will be instantly identifiable with your company name, it becomes all the more powerful. And there too, you need to avoid the commonplace. No, your logo shouldn't be a smoothing plane, or circular saw blade.
If you choose a conceptual name, one not tied specifically to you, the business entity gets the added benefit that it can be sold and continue when you're ready to do that.
So, consider a name that will be memorable, not easily confused with anyone else, and easily rendered as a graphic. If you get that done, the name will be doing everything for the business that a name alone is capable of doing.
Checking out what is available in domain names is also important. A good friend of mine built his company name around a www.moniker that was already taken. As a consequence of this his company URL is XXX woodworkers.NET. Most customers would be inclined to search for XXX woodworkers.COM.
I have never generated a sale from the phone book, and never from the web. I ran a bold listing in the yellow pages for more than a decade and my company has been on the web with its own domain since the late 90's. The agency which created my logo won the American Corporate Identity award for it in 1996. I advertised nationally and locally in various publications and I exhibited at the ICFF and sold nothing through these venues.
Every sale I have made has been the result of cold calling, warm calling, word of mouth referrals, and repeat customers. Note the latter three are the direct result of reputation. The only reason I can explain for my failure to sell through the phone book, the web and through advertising is that I failed to recognize how my market chooses who it will work with. Knowing the answer to this question, what influences your market's purchasing habits, should determine the answer to your question.
I had my business cards printed both on card stock and fridge magnets. I give people one of each and they usually keep the magnet and pass on the card as a referral. I don't think it matters - what is a Xerox? Does anyone remember that Chevrolet was a French guy from the 1870's? How does Yahoo or Google define what the company does? Do people not buy Caterpillar equipment because it's named after a green ugly insect?
I know I'm comparing big time corporate vs. most of our small businesses (Mom-and-Pop, One-man-and-a-Van, up to some with several dozen or even hundred's). These companies had products/services that served a market need, were innovative with technology, and as they grew, their company name/brand identity stuck. They have also spent more on advertising than all of us combined have ever (or will have) made.
As I grew and now that I'm going into more commercial work (displays, counters, etc) I can tweak the name to Cherry Tree Commercial Woodworks. If I start big in kids stuff I can tweak it again to Cherry Tree Kids. I also wanted a saleable name. If you use your personal name, you can't sell the business as easily. Also, Cherry Tree comes early in the listings in the phone book, etc. without looking like I tried to do that.
I have about a 40% acceptance for what I price. But it seems people that are ordering from me are desperate and have to have the work done. Mostly restaurantís than need something done quickly because someone didn't get booths ordered or they need a cabinet in a week or two. I seem to have a steady flow of work. Based on what I've found the use of the word "cherry" may cause some people to not call but I donít' see it reflected in my P and L report.