What’s in a name?

Shakespeare wrote, “…a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Maybe so, but a poorly titled business, product or service would not “sell” nearly as sweetly as one with a name that embedded itself with great meaning and emotion into the minds of prospective customers.

If you are preparing to launch a new business, product or service, you will need to decide what name should be attached to it.  Do not be fooled.  This is no simple task.  And a good amount of time and effort should be devoted to getting it right.  An outstanding name can lead to great success.  A lame moniker figuratively can toss your widget down a dry well toward agonizing failure.

There are certain characteristics that greatly enhance the probability of success in this area. And their identification will not surprise.  One, the name should be “catchy.”  Two, it should have a direct relation to the business product or service it represents. Third, it should evoke a positive feeling in the prospect.

“A great name is simple, memorable… and should define your unique selling position,” say Nancy Michaels and Debbie J. Karpowicz in their book, Off-The-Wall Marketing Ideas.  “(I)t should sound good; look good when reproduced on paper (stationery, business cards, etc.); differentiate itself from the competition; and, nowadays, also have a web domain that’s not already taken.”

To clarify, however, it is less important that a company be named in accordance with these principles.

A good reputation of the business or its owner will help make some sales, but a company, per se, will not catch on and spread like wildfire across the country.  A product or service can do that much more easily.  Remember the Hula Hoop?  Can you name the company that manufactured it?

“Starving Student Movers” is a good example of a great name and how it can work for a service.  The name conjures a mental picture of strong, energetic, young people working their way through college.  Who wouldn’t want to support their hard-working enterprise?  Of course, if you engage the company, the guys who come and put a gorilla grip on your furniture may not fit the perceived image.

Also, those hungry youths have their corporate offices in Los Angeles and can drop your dresser down a flight of stairs as far away as Maine. The name, however, has been successful at creating a good feeling in the hearts of potential and actual customers.  They won’t dwell on the fact that it actually is a major corporation.

By the way, one of the first manufacturers of the Hula Hoop was Carlon Products Corporation and 25 million were sold in the first four months on the market.  In two years, more than 100 million hoops were in circulation.  (Sorry, I was unable to stop myself.)

Who knows whether the Hula Hoop would have enjoyed such explosive success if it had been named something less clever, such as the Hip Orbiter?