Does the Founder’s Name Always Provide for a Good Company Name?

Naming article in USA Today got this brand strategist’s blood boiling

Last week, my niece, Robin, forwarded me a naming article that ran in USA today which clearly advocated on behalf of using the founder’s name. I wasn’t sure whether to thank her or curse her. I think I wound up doing both. But before we dig into the relative merits of the eponymous company name (there are many), I’d like to raise three other points.

  1. Do we really think the fields of branding and brand naming readily lend themselves to one-size-fits-all answers? I’d like to suggest (remind, proclaim, shout) that these disciplines are about as far away from the binary as you can get.
  2. Do we believe our branding and naming questions should be answered with or without the benefit of context? For me, asking questions about a company’s name would be akin to asking an accountant, “What should I put on Line Twelve? No, you can’t look at the rest of the form… or the entirety of the financial situation, for that matter… just gimme an answer!”
  3. If we are going to engage in that perilous pursuit of determining definitive answers, then, before we solve, for once and for all, the age-old question of “What should we name our company,” shouldn’t this process begin with a shared definition of a name? What are its objectives? What should a business name do for the company?

For stickiness and differentiation, the founder’s name will most likely under-perform.

But for credibility, as the article’s writer points out, there’s absolutely something to be said for “putting one’s name on it.” I not only don’t disagree with this, I believe in it so much I actually appended my company name with my personal name.

So, as mentioned, the purpose here isn’t to say the argument is without merit. Naming after the founder should always be a consideration. But to do this in a vacuum… or to fail to consider all of the other naming approaches… which just may speak better to your current business and marketing objectives, that’s a mistake. A big one.

Some of the reasons why naming the company after the founder may prove to be a disappointment

  1. In certain fields, such as law, finance and, to a lesser extent, manufacturing, there is a long tradition of founder names. Standing out (for me, a prime branding objective) will be all that much tougher. A few years ago, I was actually interviewed on this topic of using the owner’s name as the company name.
  2. Everything we do in branding and naming should be driven by an overarching goal to simplify the buyer’s journey. This includes aiding the brain’s memory. The Smith Firm, The Jones Company and The Williams Brothers may sound unique in each of their individual boardrooms, but I assure you: in the minds of prospects, they all get clumped together. Very few will remember whether it was Smith, Jones or Williams who ran which ad, made which headline, etc. This may sound like a small point. Now multiply that lack of recall and ineffective awareness across all of your marketing spend.
  3. The cost of missed opportunity – is what we’re doing here, growing the business, more about you or should it not be more about them? This doesn’t mean necessarily that the business’ name has to be a direct promise, but it’s great when it can hint at the uniquely valuable experience in store.
  4. Creating greater distinction between the company and the person behind can be a very good thing. When what we, as marketers, most want is for our prospects, customers and employers to co-own the brand experience, I think making the company more yours than theirs stands in the way of forging deeper, emotional connections.

In the company names agency business, you work like Hell to make the whole thing look easy.

Think about today’s leading brands. Seriously. Challenge yourself (and your team) to make a list of the 20-30 brands that come to mind.  Now add them all together. My guess is that no more than 5-10% of these will be founder names. The other 90%?  Creative names that were generated with the specific purpose of accelerating growth, facilitating memorable and meaningful customer connections and increasing perceptions of  unique value. That said, if you want to read the article that triggered this rant, please feel free:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/08/28/whats-brand-name/599143001/

 

 

 

 

Small business naming agency’s ideal client

Are you this small business naming agency’s ideal client?

This naming agency business is full of war stories. Just the other day, I had the good fortune of sitting down with a tremendously bright and experienced trademark lawyer. He’s seen his share of lackluster names, seen the results of well-intended punsters and he knows what’s out there service-wise. Our discussion prompted me to riff a bit here on why the process goes so badly for so many so often and how I think I’ve been able to defeat the odds. (No time for humility here – that’s on reserve for the brand vision inside you. For me, the only way to truly honor that vision is to meet it head-on: with whip-smart strategy and a process that mitigates the risks smaller businesses and smaller budgets face when trying to tackle creative projects.)

But, full disclosure: my ideal naming client doesn’t really need to be sold on the value of a good name. If he/she could afford it, he/she would absolutely be talking to the larger naming agencies.

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Recent name for a golf app by small business naming agency Articulated Brands of Los Angeles.

The more you understand naming’s unique objectives and challenges, the more you recognize the value here.

Thinking back, my ideal client has already tried to come up with names. Cocktail napkins. Endless hours on Google. Often, they’ve already gone the crazy Uncle Lenny and the crowd-sourced naming routes, coming up not only empty-handed but delayed and demoralized. If that’s not bad enough, on a few occasions, I’ve actually had to do cleanup work for clients who were utterly dissatisfied with the work of other reputable firms.

(That said, do I mind if you need some reinforcement about the investment you’re about to make and why? Absolutely not. It really is my privilege and my pleasure to answer all of your questions, even the tough ones, and to help demystify some of the notions around naming and branding in general.)

Where do many naming agencies and company namers get it wrong?

  1. Monkeys typing Shakespeare (Myth: the more people working on my project, the greater the chances of success. Reality: only one person is going to nail your new name by “getting you” the most. “Safety in numbers” simply does not apply to the company naming and product naming disciplines.)
  2. Inadequate listening.
  3. No real investment into the underlying business model.
  4. Branding over positioning. (Big, hairy mistake. And just asking you simple questions, without challenging you on the premises or analyzing the business imperatives, does NOT qualify as a legitimate briefing process.)
  5. Puns and misspellings and pedestrian polyglot, oh my!

How I’ve achieved success as a business naming consultant:

  1. A unique combination of analytical and creative strengths.
  2. A deep understanding of branding, positioning and business development.
  3. Uncommon focus and tenacity.
  4. A proven desire to help people get where they want to go.
  5. Infectious humor and enthusiasm – a happy process leads to happy names.

When it comes to the high costs of company naming, it pays to get it right the first time.

If you, like Goldilocks, have been searching for a just-right, priced-right option, I’m here for you. Clearly, naming is not an inexpensive undertaking. Not for you and not for me, either. (When you add up the hours that typically go into a naming assignment*, it’s not what you’d call a profit center. It just happens to be something I love doing for people.)

Is it a big naming agency you’re after or simply a killer name?

You: an innate appreciation for BOTH creative abundance and a streamlined creative process, a passion for bringing your new brand to life in the most meaningful manner possible, and a budget of five to ten grand, depending upon the number of options you desire and a few other factors.

Me: a total commitment to your naming success.

Call me on it.

*A naming assignment requires 48 – 68 hours of high-speed name generation work, depending upon the category and the number of options you’ve requested. In a future blog post, I’ll explain why the caffeine-fueled journey takes “so long,” even for a quick thinker.

Big Naming Company Options and Alternatives

Finding a great name for a new business, new product or service leaves many marketers feeling lost.

Let’s assume you already know a little bit about branding. Let’s further assume you quickly recognize the difference between a cool, catchy and unique name and a lame one. In fact, let’s assume the search for a standout company name is what brought you here in the first place.

Your options are limited.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but naming fees might paralyze you.

On the one hand, you have the global naming agencies and the reputable New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles naming firms. I don’t begrudge them their rates. The good ones (of which there are really only a handful) are worth every penny, but for the small business on a budget, $25,000, $50,000 and even $250,000 are simply too much to pay for a name. This is especially true if you a startup or you’re launching a new product right out of the gate.

Some call it crowd sourcing. For naming, I think it’s the equivalent of practicing medicine without a license.

On the other end of the continuum from the big brand naming companies, there are the crowd sourcing options. I mean, who can argue with a couple hundred bucks, right? Most of the prospects I talk to and people who believe in higher standards, that’s who takes issue with the crowd-sourced naming options. Of course, the premise here is so intriguing, I have to admit that on the surface it sounds like a terrifically modern approach to the age-old naming challenge, even to me. So, where’s the rub?

Problems with crowd sourcing naming projects:

  1. Knowing how to wordsmith does not impute the strategic ability to properly position a company.
  2. One hundred or two hundred awful to mediocre contenders does not in any way equal 12-18 brilliant options, one of which you’ll actually select, clear through your trademark attorney and rave about.
  3. Of the submitted names, an overwhelming majority will include misspellings of common words, unavailable dot com domains and trademark trouble.
  4. There is a time and a place for cute. While your naming project could be one of them, it’s usually wise to explore all of your naming options, not just the cutesy ones, the cheesy puns, etc.
Company-naming-agency-business-names-consultant-Scott-Silverman-Articulated-Brands-Los-Angeles

Technology name example by Los Angeles branding consultant & naming consultant Scott Silverman, Articulated Brands.

So, is there a company naming agency that can go toe-to-toe with the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco naming agencies at 50% less cost?

Hi, I’m Scott. So glad we met like this. Check out the company and product names portfolio. Read through the testimonials. I made naming a specialty of Articulated Brands® because it’s a chance for me to give people a leg-up from the get-go. Though I’m based in Los Angeles, I’m giving those New York and San Francisco naming agencies a run for their money. (Not to mention the Chicago naming agencies, the Seattle naming agencies, the Fargo and Fairbanks naming agencies… you get the idea.)

Company Names Need Great Taglines, Too

As if finding a unique company name weren’t challenging enough… guess what. You need a great tagline, too.

Since I spend a lot of time talking about company names, today, I want to give company taglines their due. While your unique company name may begin to tell the story of your brand, your tagline can further build on the intrigue. If the human tendency is to think literal for naming, that tendency becomes even more pronounced when you are trying to sell a client on a great brand-building company tagline. When clients are thinking function, function, function, I gently try to remind them of context. Since your three primary brand identity elements of name, tag, logo are more about “setting the stage” for the sale than actually making it, a tagline limited only to the “what” of what we do can be a giant missed opportunity. A missed opportunity for what, ask my two readers. A missed opportunity to stand for something larger than yourself and your own commercial gain. This is why, in brand discovery, we get into bigger picture issues of vision and values. Because if we can identify a point of target intersect, a place where the company’s beliefs overlap with customer vision and values, that’s a solid brand position. If we can capture the essence of that in a simple tagline, all the better.

Company name first, company tagline second

I know a lot of company naming agencies present name options with taglines. Over the years, I’ve really come to dislike this practice. To each his/her own, I suppose, but I think it’s a short-cutting of something ripe with possibility. The advantages of having a final name selection in place (including legal clearance) prior to developing taglines are:

  1. We now have the benefit of all the conversation held around the name options; odds are there were many strong contenders and the client had a lot to say about each and every one. Can any of the juice around those other names become inspiration for the tagline?
  2. The name is strong in many ways, but not all. Can we use the tagline to round your story out?
  3. Generating multiple taglines for multiple name options is exhausting. I think it’s akin to “using creative as a search for strategy” — something I’ve long since retired. It’s bad business, inefficient both for clients and for myself, and demoralizing for the creative talent involved.

By way of example, I want to salute two great taglines

Instead of talking about my own work like an egomaniacal, coked-up chef (wouldn’t it be more fun just to call — wouldn’t it make for a better story?), I just want to use two great taglines to illustrate at least some of what I like and why.

Dow Scrubbing Bubbles – ya know, the bath stuff? No, that’s not the tagline. It’s (as if I need to tell you):

We work hard so you don’t have to.

First, it’s conversational over wordplay (sometimes okay) and punniness (careful, kid!) Second, they tie the us-side into a direct human benefit. Most companies get lost (and lose all of their marketing muscle) in a world of me-centrism. Third, the previously mentioned benefit… it’s enormous! Less work? Are you freaking kidding me? I’m writing taglines here! Who’s got time to scrub, and that’s assuming I even know how to scrub. Come to think of it, maybe I should spray some on the laptop right now. Maybe those little dudes can help with this blog post? Fourth, the common sense inherent in the line is almost Franklinian; with a practical magic like that at work, I can think of this as a very practical purchase… and not the indulgence it probably is. (For what it’s worth, I do use this stuff on everything. With bubbles on my side, I can!)

USAA – the insurance company for veterans and their families:

We know what it means to serve.

Okay, so here there is some wordplay, but look at how good it is! It’s not clunky; you can read it as a simple statement without feeling goofy. What other brilliant thing did they do here? They tied their how promise – a qualitative distinction around the typically-to-be-avoided-at-all-costs abstraction of “service” – into their why! While I don’t know for sure it’s authentic, it certainly feels true for them. Relevant and resonant? I’d say their targets would appreciate the sentiment. Differentiating? Well, for their primary audience, I think they captured the difference already in the brand… and knocked it out of the park. Somebody’s getting a fan letter…

Company Naming Agency Favorites

As a company naming agency, playing favorites would be like picking which of your kids you like best.

(Sorry, Timmy.)

So I’m not gonna pick a favorite company name. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent. (Man, haven’t made that Bush-Carvey reference in ages!) Nope! Not gonna pick a favorite product name, either. Instead, I’m going to discuss the various naming style types. Of these, I certainly do have two favorites:  the unexpected and the operative metaphor. I find these to be “the brandiest” of the bunch. Meaningfully different and wonderfully sticky.

Examples of company names from my company naming agency that benefit from the unexpected would be IfThenWow™ and ManifestEquity™. I think the reason I like these so much is that they’re just so hard to generate. You really need to be knee-deep in the company naming process for things like this to surface. IfThenWow™ was the name chosen by a software and web development firm; the combination of brilliant coding with elegant design was the perfect set-up for a name based upon coding language, with a twist. ManifestEquity™ is a financial services firm specializing in connecting Americans with overseas investment opportunities. Not right for everybody, perhaps, but certainly a good fit for their investor base.

Examples of metaphors, probably the most common naming convention in the Hall of Great Names, would include Wildfire Networking, Shine Candles, Libretto Espresso and the entire suite of license plate recognition cameras my naming agency created on behalf of Perceptics, among them:  the PassPort Series, the Sentinel Series, etc.

What other category types do company naming agencies use?

The most commonly utilized naming category is the portmanteau, a conjoined form of two other words or word roots. While it typically lacks the appeal of some other name styles and can often result in a meaningless mouthful, it’s always worth exploring. Recently, my Los Angeles company naming agency had some major hits with Lessoneer, Parfecta and Orgodomo, so I would never retire this category completely. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to name Intuit QuickBase developer, Sympo, and I continue to think this will be one of my best names ever. Short. Kid-like. Benefit-driven. Yay, me. Or, as the tagline has it:  Click, click, hooray! From my list of available .com pharmaceutical names, I continue to put full faith in www.Benogen.com. It’s from the Latin, meaning good life. Who doesn’t want that? Correction: who doesn’t want that for a cool million?

For more on my company naming agency, ya know, point, hover and click in the manner in which you’ve become so masterful. To see more pharmaceutical names, do the same thing, but this time, you’ve got an entirely new target.

Company-naming-agency-los-angeles-naming-consultant-Articulated-Brands-los-angeles

Okay, so this one isn’t a real fast food company name.

My friends Nick and Rich of Lucky Airlines were shooting a spot for Five Hour Energy and they needed a name to show what a pain the drive-thru line can be, especially during lunch hour. If you think your naming category is crowded, try naming a burger restaurant! It’s madness. Nevertheless, what was needed was a name that implied speed isn’t all it’s cracked to be. Also, costly and protracted litigation is a common client preference. Picky, picky. The answer: Beef Burners. Coming soon to a TV near you.

For First Impressions Your Company Name Is The Firstiest

Okay, so firstiest isn’t word. But here’s one that is: persuasion. Your sales process (persuasion plan) needs to begin far earlier than most think. The earlier you start thinking about your long-term structured sale, the more time and money you will save in the long run.

Considering just how much muscle a great company name can exercise in helping your company push past the competition and/or solidify a unique position on the landscape, even if you don’t have tens of thousands to spend, it’s certainly worth thinking about why the best and brightest companies do prioritize and invest so heavily into the company naming affair.

Be assured: they don’t simply enjoy throwing their money around; Boards and experienced Venture Capital firms regularly approve these substantial expenditures because they know you only get one chance to make a first impression. They know that when you’re trying to accomplish something truly great, like mothering a sustainable revenue stream into the world, you want everything going for you, nothing holding you back. Your name, tag and logo represent the three opportunities, your three ripest opportunities, to establish and pronounce your market presence and leave a permanent, positive impression on your target audience. So, like all things branding, when it comes to naming your company, the stickier, the better.

Time for Brand Naming

“How much time should we allow for our brand naming project?”

As for timelines, the entire brand naming process can take anywhere from two weeks to three months, with the smaller firms probably, though not definitively, demonstrating more flexibility and agility when it comes to working around your brand discovery, strategy and identity development schedule, your budgetary constraints and your other needs. A tagline generation should ideally be executed immediately following brand naming, which should account for another two weeks in your schedule. (As a line-item, an experienced brand strategist’s or professional copywriter’s tagline generation will cost anywhere from $2500 to $7500, depending upon the number of alternatives you require, which is often a reflection of company size and layers of bureaucratic entrenchment, whether there is a suitable creative brief in place, prior clients, industry stature, etc.)

For brand naming and for taglines, as with all of the creative disciplines, the more proven a talent, the higher the fees he or she can command due to the greater likelihood of increased quality with decreased risk. While you certainly want to be working with somebody who understands the business and marketplace clocks are ticking, it’s best to plan for, rather than rush, the time these mission critical initiatives take.

Please click here for more on Articulated Brands’ business names and company naming agency services.

Great Naming Takes Differentiation Beyond Good Intentions

One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes has always been “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” I feel the same way about many things, especially differentiation. Lots of talk about it. You can practically hear it echoing through boardrooms across the planet, right now, even as you read this. Some are afraid “the competition’s gaining on us.” Some are proactively wondering what the business may look like in a decade. Most are trying to grapple with this fundamental question: if what got us to this point will not get us to the next point, then what the heck will?

Every business and every B-school grad knows that D word, and everything it stands for had better be written into your business plan and model. Obviously, wherever and whenever possible you’re going to want to build true differentiation — actual difference into your actual product and service offerings. You brand (communicate your uniqueness) to both capitalize on that differentiation AND to raise the barrier on the competition AND to lay a framework for moving forward that will continue to lead to new revenue and opportunity identifications. But all of these are based upon the WHY of your existence. What do you believe in? Do your markets (or brand audiences) believe in you? If you want the latter question to be answered with a hearty yes, spend more time on the first question. The more harmonious (relevant, resonant) your beliefs are with those of your prospects, clients and buyers, the more receptive they become. It’s the difference between looking at The Sale as a tactical car-salesman-esque maneuver and viewing it as a long-term relationship.

What does all of this have to do with great naming? It’s not enough to be kooky. While that’s certainly helpful from a retail, stand-out-from-the-crowd perspective, differentiation isn’t about being different just to be different. It’s about being different on purpose, which is to say that you have truly defined your company’s uniqueness and that you have done so with a close eye on the relative marketplace worth of that uniqueness.

What you can’t do (well, you can, but it’s not so smart) is say with one side of your mouth you understand the business imperative of differentiating and with the other side say that naming, brand discovery, brand strategy or marketing, for that matter, should somehow be easy side projects that aren’t really germane to the bigger business discussions. Are. You. Kidding? Connecting better with the people who feed you and pay your salary… engaging better with the people who make you look good or not… attracting and retaining the people who will fan the flames of your future… positioning yourself for valuable strategic partnerships… do any of these sound like small fish to you? There is no more pressing matter on your table than carving out a differentiated presence. I’m not suggesting over-investing in your brand, especially if you are a new or small company. But what I am saying is this: if you take the time to get your positioning and messaging right, if you treat them as importantly as you would if you were preparing a business plan for a bank loan, you will significantly increase your chances for accelerating your growth.

I don’t promise blue oceans to my clients. One, that’s just bad juju, not to mention bad form. Two, nobody’s offered me a budget or timeline that large yet. But what I do promise is that every undertaking, every consultation or work project, will be grounded and guided by that noble objective. It’s not that we get there. We don’t. But what we derive from that journey alone, because we didn’t deviate or compromise from that service effort, is worth at least ten times the price of admission. Because we’ve nailed our positioning and messaging. Because we have a new understanding of why this brand stuff matters. Because we know that our next steps will be informed by this new-found focus and clarity.

The best company names, like all other marketing communication initiatives, should be the natural outgrowth of all you’ve already done to define yourself. It’s not a search for an identity. It’s an identity in need of a easily-recognizable moniker. When you approach them in the reverse order, you miss a giant opportunity.

Considering just how much muscle a great company name can exercise in helping your company push past the competition and/or solidify a unique position on the landscape, even if you don’t have tens of thousands to spend, it’s certainly worth thinking about why the best and brightest companies do prioritize and invest so heavily into the affair. Be assured: they don’t simply enjoy throwing their money around; Boards and experienced Venture Capital firms regularly approve these substantial expenditures because they know you only get one chance to make a first impression. They know that when you’re trying to accomplish something truly great, like mothering a sustainable revenue stream into the world, you want everything going for you, nothing holding you back.

Your name, tag and logo represent the three opportunities, the only three opportunities, to establish and increase your market presence and leave a permanent, positive impression on your target audience. So, like all things branding, when it comes to great naming, the stickier, the better. (“Sticky” is a reference to Made To Stick, a truly wonderful book by Dan & Chip Heath, available on Amazon and, I’m guessing, at the world’s last independent bookstore, should that still exist.)

 

Types of Company Names

Before we begin to discuss company name types, three big caveats:

  1. This list of company name types is by no means comprehensive. It’s more like a starter course. It’s antipasto, okay? Also, lots of hairs could be split over how to precisely classify a group or a name within that group. But I don’t have that kind of hair. So, apologies to the angrily-commenting mobs who seem to so enjoy mucking up my interweb. We aren’t going to do that today. We are a peaceful lot. We will digest this internet-based information in a neutral and easy-going manner. We’re Switzerland, okay?
  1. Any naming agency or naming copywriter who thinks your choice of a preferred name type gets anywhere close to a strategy should be avoided like the sixth plague (boils!) I’ve mentioned this in a prior blog post, but it bears repeating. Sure, you can have your faves, and certainly your taste and stylistic preferences should be honored… just don’t confuse that with the real matter at hand: defining your core essence, defining the marketplace opportunity… and arriving at the delicious nougat where the two meet.

CREATED COMPANY NAMES

Yeah, this sounds kinda dumb. I mean, they’re all created, right? I coulda said “Made-up,” but that’s even goofier. Not that I’m against goofy, as this blog will no doubt prove beyond a shadow. By created, I simply mean a whole new word has been brought into the universe. Some of these will have direct connections to the English, Greek, Latin or otherwise meaningful root; some won’t. We also care about euphonics (good sounds) and mnemonics (ease of recall) — all of this will work better by example…

Examples of created company names from Scott Silverman’s Articulated Brands® company name portfolio: Sequent Systems, JuicifyMe, Eukonic. Created company names by insignificant people whose blogs you aren’t reading now: Xerox, Yelp, Charmin.

EVOCATIVE COMPANY NAMES

Whether via historical or mythological allusion… by linguistic connection or by shear force of ingenuity, these name types tend to be emotional and experiential. My favorite name type here is synechdoche (no, we aren’t referring to somewhere back East; it means small for large.) Haven’t had a chance to do one of these yet… could you be the one?

Examples of evocative company names from Scott Silverman’s Articulated Brands® company name portfolio include: Shine Candles, Workbench, InfoSing, Manifest Equity and Libretto Espresso. Many large corporations are embracing the emotional brand pull of evocative names, such as Pandora®, Staples® and Twitter®.

PRIMARY ATTRIBUTE OR BENEFIT-DRIVEN COMPANY NAMES

Just as it sounds. This company name type is more descriptive than anything else. If what you’re describing is great, great!

Examples of descriptive, attribute or benefit-driven company and product names from Scott Silverman’s Articulated Brands’ company and product naming portfolio includes: Sympo, Smoky Joe, FastPort Series, Intellitoll Series. Descriptive company names from other corners of the world include: Jiffy Lube, Lean Cuisine (George Lois genius!), Two Men & A Truck.

METAPHORICAL COMPANY NAMES

See this one thing? It’s like this other thing. In a good way, natch.

Examples of metaphorical company names from Scott Silverman’s Articulated Brands® company and product naming portfolio include: Pawed Piper™, PassPort Series™, Sentinel Series™. If you’ve ever eaten a Red Vine®, shopped at Amazon® or interacted with an Oracle® database, you’ve come face-to-face with a metaphorical company name type. And you lived to tell about it. Yay, you!

CONJOINED COMPANY NAMES

People seem to worry about this category. They seem to be afraid of getting caught up into some sort of Greek-Latin polyglot mess. Yes, that’s a concern, but not a huge one. Not global warming. More like getting pooped on by a vengeful bird – doesn’t happen very often, but, ya know, keep on your lookout anyhow.

Examples of conjoined company names utilizing word combinations, hybrids and oxymorons include: Articulated Brands® and HarvestWaste™. Conjoined company names from obvious hacks include: FaceBook®, FedEx® and PaperMate®.

A WORD ABOUT USING ACRONYMS: DON’T.

Not only is it way old school, it’s also tres confusement. They require adoption over time, so unless your budget is massive, be careful with trying to finance name recognition for a new set of initials. Actually, even if you do have a massive budget, I’d still advise avoidance.

ON LITERAL & GENERIC COMPANY NAMES

Though extremely counter-intuitive, literal names tend to under-perform at the brand level, so be wary. But if you’re absolutely certain you don’t need local or even industry name recognition and SEO is your sole purpose for naming, consider adding a more distinctive moniker to your generic term. So, the formula for you would be {STICKY} + {LAME & UN-DIFFERENTIATED} = naming success, optimized!

In future blog posts, I plan to address my own company name… and why I chose, for business reasons, a seemingly generic set of terms. Notice how I said seemingly? Notice how I was able to get it trademarked?

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little escapade into company name types. I know I sure would have if I weren’t here working my little fingertips to the bone. All for you. All for you. And all of the names appearing here are the property of their respective owners, so I’ll probably get sued over this. Nice.

Costs to Name A Company, Brand Naming Fees

Company Naming Costs… and the even higher prices you pay when you don’t approach this vital business development initiative with sharp focus.

Sitting at the center of your brand identity and your entire marketing budget, your business name is an infrastructure investment, the cost of which must be amortized over its expected life. In too many start-ups and small businesses there is a “we’ll get to that later” mindset. But when what every start-up and small business needs to create is interest and excitement, is it any wonder that “later” is an opportunity never afforded to them? Think about what you will be spending in marketing over the next 3-5 years. Add that up. Now take a percentage of that for the role YOU think (not what I think) a name plays in solidifying your marketplace presence. Allocate that to your brand strategy work, inclusive of your naming costs.

Now, for the company naming cost deets…

Assuming a certain level of brand marketing expertise and sophistication, the strategic portion of the company naming costs can range from $2500 to $50,000 or more, depending upon the size of the company, how much research is indicated, how many rounds you wish to pursue, and whether it is part of a comprehensive branding process or not. But, again, there’s some very good news for you here: if you have selected the right company naming agency or brand consultant, the positioning work you do will inform, inspire and help streamline much of your future endeavors, so, done well, it’s actually a hedge against wasted dollars in the future. So, like all things, naming costs should have a built-in expected ROI based upon expected proportionate value. As for the added value provided by a branding firm or positioning expert, frankly, making sure we haven’t lost focus in our business development, and that we’re not chasing the wrong marketplace position, should probably be Priority One for all of us anyhow.

Costs for the creative part of the naming process, the name generations, can vary greatly, based upon how extensive your project is and the level of creative marketing expertise you’ve chosen to employ. Many of the big company naming firms employ a cadre of freelance copywriters or namers who submit names that are then filtered by the Creative Director, based upon his/her own internal criteria and philosophy. Obviously, all of this is built into your company naming costs. A one-person shop, brand strategist or freelance naming copywriter may simply dedicate an agreed-upon number of days or hours per round. Expect to pay anywhere between $5000 and $35,000 for the creative naming exploration phase if there is already a strategic brief in place, and, depending, of course, upon the experience level of the talent, the amount of thoroughness you require and, of course, your budget. Many firms do not include domain name availability and trademark searches, so this is something you will need to coordinate with your legal counsel.

You may not have the budget of an Apple® or a P&G® at your disposal, or even the budget of your direct competition, but instead of using that as a reason to take the matter of company naming less seriously, why not instead use that simple fact as your clarion call to work smarter, with more ingenuity and with more of a commitment to authentic brand creation? The more you think of your business as the brand you’re working to build, the more focused your every daily action will be, and the more you will have to show for your efforts in the long run.