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Naming a Business Is a Competitive Sport

A naming professional reminds entrepreneurs to keep their competitors in mind when choosing a name for their company.
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You have a business idea and a rock-solid business plan. Maybe you've got a great partner or have even been eyeing up the perfect premises. Now all you need is a name.

Your first consideration is probably your customers. What will potential names convey to your clients about what your business does and what it stands for? You're probably also thinking about yourself—communicating something of your taste, your preferences, your style. But a recent post on OPEN Forum reminds budding business owners that a name is as much about your competitors as it is about your character and the character of your business.

The post by Elizabeth Sile rounds up recommendations from a handful of naming professionals to help out entrepreneurs searching for that elusive perfect name. But one point in particular from Laurel Sutton, principal at Catchword Brand Name Development, quoted in the post, bears repeating. Her point?

"Naming is a competitive sport."

Rather than simply thinking of a moniker that conveys the essence of what your business is about, Sutton recommends thinking of your name as encapsulating everything that sets your company apart from competitors in the space. Sile writes:

Sutton says that businesses should not only check out their competitors’ names, but the styles, tonality and messaging of their brand. Find what makes your brand totally different, and base everything on that…. small businesses should avoid falling into the trap whereby their names’ sole purpose is to describe what the businesses do.

"A descriptive naming strategy overlooks the fact that the whole point of marketing is to separate yourself from the pack," she says. "It actually works against you, causing you to fade into the background, indistinguishable from the bulk of your competitors."

On a more practical note, Sutton also notes that, once your have a contender name in mind, you should make sure no one has beaten you to the punch. "If your business is looking to form an LLC or incorporate down the road, checking to make sure a name is not already taken now will prevent headaches when it's time to start the registration process. You can search the availability of a name through your state’s secretary of state office," Siles writes.

Interested in more tips on naming? Check out the post for many more tips from experts.

What other considerations often get overlooked when entrepreneurs set out to name their new business?

Last updated: May 16, 2012

JESSICA STILLMAN

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.




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