How to Name your Business

27 02 2008

Naming your company is a crucial part of the startup process. Armed with pads and pens, a thesaurus, a dictionary, a spreadsheet and online name generators like nameboy and lightsphere, I still struggle to settle on a remarkable – nay – satisfactory name. I just finished reading Seth Godin’s book Small is the New Big, in which he devotes a section to naming. The way he describes a name is a peg on which people hang all the attributes of your business. As such, he recommends the less it has to do with your category, the better. Names he likes include Starbucks, Nike, Apple, JetBlue, Flickr, 37Signals, and Amazon. Though it’s nice to have the perfect name, it’s more important that you pick a unique name that comes up towards the top of search engine results. Lastly, the name has to be easy to spell and pronounce. You can call your scuba company Lemonpie, but just make sure to have a great tagline. “Lemonpie, the easy way to learn scuba.”

That being said, there are company names that subscribe to Godin’s recommendations while also describing their business category successfully – PayPal, Best Buy, QuickBooks are just a few.

Why Comedians should be Marketers
On Sunday night I attended Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die tour at Radio City Music Hall. Will Ferrell played host to three excellent comedians, Demetri Martin, Nick Swardson, and Zack Galifinakis. I’ve seen most of their routines before and was disappointed in the lack of new material – though they were still hilarious. While Demetri was launching into his flipchart bit (click below), it occurred to me that comedians would make exceptional marketers. At 55 seconds he profiles Hummer owners (tough guys come in at 43%, Pricks are 27%, and so on). Imagine that serving as a commercial for buying Hybrid. Or move on to 2:49 and imagine a politician delivering their public policy in this method. I think Demetri would hold up better than most of your top marketing execs in the board room. Demetri, if you’re reading this, I’m willing to barter services. I’ll DJ your next party if you can name my company.

Be a comedian, not a marketer
• Keep your message succinct and memorable. Provide something that I’ll want to spread to my network
• Use visuals effectively (sometimes just a whiteboard is enough)
• You don’t need to spend millions in advertising. Demetri’s YouTube video has received 777,000 views and 661 comments.
• Dare to be different (and funny). Your consumer will appreciate it. Even if you don’t have what I need at your website, leave me with a memorable message and I’m likely to return.

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