"Your business name must be bold." Look around the Internet, and you'll often find this advice. Your business name must grab people's attention. Sometimes this is a valid guideline, especially if you are in the entertainment, gadget or fashion industries. Too often, however, I see this rule lead business owners to strain for an unusual name, just for the sake of attention. And the very unusualness of the name then becomes a serious liability.
More ordinary names can sometimes work out much better than far-fetched ones. Here are two examples of this phenomenon.
When Susan Friedmann of Lake Placid, New York went out on her own, she christened her new company Diadem Communications. "Diadem means crown - a fitting name for what I felt was a crowning achievement," she recalls.
Unfortunately, however, the name meant nothing to potential customers. Most were unfamiliar with the word diadem and did not ask what it meant. Many didn't know how to pronounce it. More importantly, it did not clue them in on Susan's specialty - helping companies get results from exhibiting at trade shows.
"Going by name alone, no one would be able to determine the least bit of information about me, my company or the services we offer," she says.
Susan's new company name, The Trade Show Coach, communicates her expertise instantly. "I knew I needed a name that said what I did without people having to try and work it out." No longer does she need to explain her business focus after introducing herself and her company.
Graphic designer/web designer Eileen Parzek also decided she had made a mistake by getting too creative in her business name. For years, she went by the company name SOHO It Goes. Her tag line: Helping Small Businesses Make a Big Impression.
"Since I live in New York State, people assumed I meant Soho, the neighborhood in New York City rather than Small Office/Home Office," she explains. "In addition, because I had to explain the name to everyone I met, that was an extra hurdle to being remembered."
She now does business under the name Business Design Studio. "Even though it's boring, I've gotten really good feedback so far on the new name. People understand it the first time they hear or see it," Eileen says. "And now when I leave a voice mail message or introduce myself, people 'get it.' What a joy!"
Before you reach deep for a highly original, offbeat name, consider whether something more straightforward can better help you reach your business goals. Sometimes, a name that is simple and clear is best.