The right name can determine if your product or service strikes a chord in the marketplace. But the naming game can be very difficult.
When Shakespeare wrote that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," he was touching on a topic that’s pretty hot in the marketing world right now – namely, naming.
(For all we know, he may have also been referring to the “stinking rose,” the Roman name for garlic.)
Everybody, it seems, is trying to figure out what to name their business. They have realized that it’s becoming increasingly important to the business’s success.
A company name establishes your identity, or in marketing-speak, creates your brand. It is how the world will know your business – or ignore it. It can either become instantly memorable (the Heaven of marketing) or instantly forgettable (the Hell of marketing).
While a name like Heaven or Hell (something or other) might strike you as pretty catchy, there are many other things to take into consideration. For example, Heaven or Hell might bring the wrath of churches and religious people, and, depending on your target market, may be seen as insulting or trivializing. So target-market effect counts too. Also Heaven or Hell by themselves don’t mean much and won’t tell anyone what you do.
Your methodology also matters: traditional businesses that rely little on Internet marketing may be able to get away with something more traditional – your real name or a generic name with something after it that describes what your business does (i.e. ABC Sewer Cleaning). Businesses that rely very much on online marketing usually have to come up with catchy names to feed into the “bright shiny object” syndrome that’s so common among heavy Internet users.
(I suggest you don’t use “Bright Shiny Object” in a name – it implies fickleness.)
The heavy lifting that’s involved in naming is probably why some naming companies charge more than $50,000 to come up with a name – usually for big companies who can afford that kind of name-dropping. Nike, McD------- (name withheld because they’ll sue our socks off for unauthorized usage), Apple and Exxon are typical examples.
Notice none of them feature faddish names, which sound ridiculous after they have saturated the language and started fading – i.e. anything named “Awesome.”
And, just to add another twist, here’s some research that turns a common naming exercise upside down. Antonia Mantonakis, a Brock University associate professor of marketing, has discovered that hard-to-pronounce or complex names often enhance their value in potential buyers’ minds.
Mantonakis tested the same wine with two different winery names – Tselepou and Titakkis – on a group, and the hard-to-pronounce one, Tselepou, was considered of higher quality.
Other tests by other researchers have discovered similar results for other products.
So, what’s in a name? A lot, apparently.