You have only one chance to make a good first impression, and the name of your company may be the way you do it. "Be choosy," advises marketing guru Jack Trout, president of Greenwich, Conn., marketing consultancy Trout & Partners Ltd. "Remember, the best names are locked directly to a product benefit or selling proposition." Here are Trout's comments on some company names, in light of his own selling strategies.

  • Simply describe what you're selling. Your name is the first thing consumers know about you, so convey the idea in very literal terms, as Toys 'R' Us did. Guiltless Gourmet is memorable, and it tells you the product is both tasty and healthy.
  • Connect the name with the strategy. A descriptive name like Lens Express tells consumers that the company is offering speedy contact-lens services. While it isn't exactly clever, a name like that can be effective if a company slogan defines it further--say, by promising delivery within a certain time frame, as Federal Express did with "absolutely, positively overnight."
  • Use specific rather than generic names. Having a big idea with a catchy name isn't enough. The Kitchen Works, for instance, sounds more like a welcome-to-the-club name. To compete, you have to give customers a sense of why they are going into this store instead of someone else's.
  • Allow for expansion. Musical Chairs Ticket Service focuses solely on music, so it may not help you sell tickets to sports events as well. While a clever name is important, it has to line up with the company's strategy.