What's in a name? The potential to gain market share and mindshare.

Would BlackBerry have been as successful as "PocketLink," its original name? It's within the realm of possibility, but, notes naming expert Alex Frankel, a more inventive name like this, "can build a strong culture around [the brand]. And it can help a company to become a company leader."

This summer, Inc.com readers were given the chance to demonstrate their own naming chops in the Inc.com Naming Contest. Five fictional businesses were presented, including a pottery studio, furniture design business, golf ball monographing business, teen apparel retailer, and an executive search firm. The editors and Alex Frankel selected "Next of Kiln" from reader Andy Noronha as the best name for the business it described:

  • Two retired sisters have moved to rural Connecticut to open a pottery store and workshop. They hope to draw local clientele and build a community around their business.

"As a rule, I usually shy away from any sort of puns and wordplay when creating names, but the symmetry of the two four letter words here helped make 'Next of Kiln' a strong name choice and that the words clearly describe the business made it a winner," says Frankel.

Inc.com Naming Finalists included:

Furniture Design Business - Plank (Peter Karlson)
Golf Ball Monographs - Branding Iron (Paul Hall; Mark Cullen)
Teen Apparel Store - Whatever + Company (Haz Said)
Executive Search Firm - The Closing Agency (Chris Ayayo)

(Click here for further descriptions of the businesses.)

"The best of the names in the contest were those names in which the creators stepped back from what might be thought of as obvious, or straightforward solutions and shifted their focus just a little bit off of their main target," says Frankel. "'Plank,' for the wood furniture design company is a good example of this subtle shift. A plank is a basic piece of wood but it's also an evocative word. Similarly, 'Whatever + Company' nails the idea for a hip Melrose Avenue clothing shop by appropriating a popular slang word and in doing so capturing its clientele perfectly."

The winner received a one-hour naming consultation with Alex Frankel and a copy of his book, "Wordcraft." Finalists also received a copy of his book.

Learn more about the naming business by reading the Inc. article "What's In A Name?", an interview with Alex Frankel, or Frankel's book, "Wordcraft."