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Dec, 22 2009

Name your Company Strategically

What goes in your mind when you have to christen a baby? You choose a name that reflects your ambitions and aspirations from the child when he grows up. Easy to call, meaningful enough to be taken seriously, the name should have a positive influence on th

What goes in your mind when you have to christen a baby? You choose a name that reflects your ambitions and aspirations from the child when he grows up. Easy to call, meaningful enough to be taken seriously, the name should have a positive influence on the child’s personality. The same considerations go when you go about hunting a name for your start-up.

Some might argue, what’s in a name? It is what you ultimately make of it through hard work and dedication. However, naming a company is like giving birth to a brand.

“Chose a name that is creative, unique, impactful and highly suitable to be developed into a powerful brand name,” says Ramesh Nair of Nameow, a company naming agency. Your company name represents your customers’ expectations, your professional values and vision for the company. Moreover, a perfectly chosen name makes you glow with excitement when you talk about your business. And more excitement brings in more business. So here’s how to go about christening your startup.

Step 1: Brainstorming

Start with a brainstorming exercise and think of all possible names so that you can shortlist a few best suitable names. Your choices should be determined by the following considerations:

  • Your customers’ age group, gender, lifestyle and geographical location. The more targeted your product or service is to a specific demographic, the more specific your name should be to appeal to that target.
  • The USP of your company. What are the unique traits of your company, which you want to highlight. Say you emphasise more on quality of service or speed of delivery.
  • Your business category. Are you selling a breakthrough concept that makes your product or service unique, or are you in a highly competitive category where success is measured by market share.
  • Is it a service business? If you are a proven expert in your domain, say a beautician or a designer, your name can have tremendous value for your business name as well. A good example is VLCC or Vandana Luthra Curles and Curves.
  • Scan your competition. Are your competitors’ names effective? If yes, why. If no, why. How could have their names been better?

Step 2: Narrow down choices

Once you've generated your list, the next step is to come down to one final name. The following considerations will help you zero in on the name with the highest potential. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does the name appeal to my target customers? Get feedback from customers or potential customers. What names appeal to them the most?
  2. Does it give me room to expand or is it limiting? “Names should be decided while keeping in mind the focus of the company for at least the next five years,” says Roland G, Founder, Design2kill. As Neetu Bhatia, Co-Founder, Kya Zoonga, an online ticketing company, says, “The name Kyazoonga gives the company unlimited scope to expand if they want to expand to other areas of ticketing.”
  3. Is it capable of attracting attention? If your product is one that appeals to the mass audience, you cannot choose a cliché. When Neetu Bhatia named her online ticketing company, Kyazoonga, Prahlad Kakkar, India’s noted advertising guru, advised her to take an unusual name that attracts attention, generates a buzz about the product and keeping it on top of people’s mind. Also it is not essential to make the services that you provide very obvious, as the consumers are intelligent enough.
  4. Is it simple to spell? If it's not, people will be much less inclined to send you referrals or log on to your website. Make things as easy as possible for your customers, prospects and referral sources.  

Some Don’ts

Don’t involve everybody

It may seem the right thing to involve everybody, friends and family in the decision-making process. However, don’t wonder if you end up pleasing everybody rather than choosing a strategically correct name. So it is better to involve only the key decision-makers, people who you feel have the company's best interests at heart. Consult people who are not egoistic about their proposal being considered.

Avoid plain words

Do not choose very plain words in your name unless your company is the first of its kind. If you have to face competition, you must carve a niche for yourself and the best way is to choose a name that displays your uniqueness.

Never restrict it to any area

Avoid using your city or region in your company name. Say Meerut Invertors. It may be fine in the beginning, but when your business expands, it may become a hindrance for your company. This is the reason why Kentucky Fried Rice changed its name to KFC.

Don’t make it complex

If your name conveys a special meaning or significance, it is great. In that case your name might tell a story. Consider ‘Reliance’. It evokes a very strong message and it represents a feature, which every customer looks for in a company or product. But if you have named your company after a Greek God which your customers find too complex and which doesn’t go in sync with your product, it can be disastrous.

Change name if its wrong

If you have chosen a wrong name, it is never too late to change it. It may cause short-term problems but once you have re-christened your company correctly, the wrong name will soon become history as your business expands.

Hire professional help

If you are not confident about finding the right name for your startup, it is advisable to get it done by an expert. There are companies offering professional naming services for a fee ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 50,000. When Medspree approached Nameow, a naming company, they wanted a name, which had the term Med in it. “This name Medspree added a competitive dimension to the name,” says Ramesh Nair, Founder, Nameow.

If you are not confident about chosing the right name for your company, you would better get professional help from naming consultants. The naming company understands your needs and comes out with a list of best possible names from which you can finalise one.

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