What’s in your Company Name?
> Do you know the story behind Xerox?
- It comes from Xerography = greek word xeros which means ‘dry’ and graphos which means ‘writing’. Shortened, you get Xerox.
> How about McDonalds?
- A milk shake mixer salesman by the name of Ray Kroc purchased the rights from Dick and Mac McDonald who started franchising their restaurant in the 1950’s.
> And VOLVO?
- ‘Volvere’ is a latin verb for the word ‘roll’ – like in the word revolver. Created by a swedish firm that made bearings, VOLVO means ‘to roll’
But if you didn’t know any of this history, would it make a difference? A McDonalds hamburger still tastes great and making a Xerox still means to make a copy. Sure it helps if the company name you choose tells your customer what you do, but sometimes trying to be too tricky can lead to problems:
> Jim’s Plumbing: that’s obvious
- Sometimes plain and simple is the best
> Ducks Cleaning: with a graphic of Aflack’s twin brother
- This doesn’t convey that you clean air ducts
- This is too cutesy and very confusing
> Best Quality Cleaning
- ‘Best’, ‘Quality’, ‘Professional’ — did you ever see anyone market the fact that they’re ‘Almost Best’? ‘Amateur’?
- It’s usually best to stay away from these types of terms — your ego is getting in the way
I once was given a business card with three big letters across the page: D I G I thought, Dig? What’s that mean I asked. The gentleman announced his girlfriend would keep telling him how good he was, so he decided to name his company D I G: Damn I’m Good. Really? Needless to say, his services were never used.
I had someone else ask me to design a card with just his name on it. No number, no address, no company, no email, no nothing. The only thing I did see he had, was an ego.
Another question you should ask yourself when you’re trying to choose a company name, is it readily available for a ‘.com’ domain name? Will you have to hyphen it? Underscore it? Shorten it? Compromise it?
- It took us over 5 years to finally get our name as a domain.com. And it was well worth the wait. Up until then, we had to hyphen it.
Are .net and .org the only alternatives? In that case, don’t grab them. It’s always best — unless you’re a non-profit organization — to have a ‘.com’ web name. Why? When people search, they tend to type in .com, and many browsers automatically add that if you don’t put anything in. And having your competition show up instead of you? And if you are a .org, grab the .com as well and just have it point to the org site.
So will the right company name make or break you? For some, if they find the business name offensive, stupid or just plain unprofessional, you’ll never hear from them. So take your time, ask around and choose wisely.
Sometimes simple is best.