South-Western - Management  
What's In a Name?
Topic Entrepreneurship
Key Words Brand names, Marketing
InfoTrac Reference A119371491
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News Story

When choosing the right name for a new company, entrepreneurs should realize that a good name can never save a bad business, but can make a huge difference in how much attention a business gets from its customers. There are three important things to remember when choosing a new company or product name:

  1. Ask the right questions before deciding on a name: What are you trying to accomplish? And what is your business known for? Take for example the name Google, it's attention-getting, fun to say, alliterative, nonsensical sounding, but reflects a relevant meaning (a google is the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes). The best names subconsciously convey a feeling that highlights a company's or product's strengths. Companies like Lexicon Branding say that alliteration and symmetry can make a name fun to say and memorable. Some examples of products they have named include OnStar and BlackBerry.
  2. 2. Have a backup plan: It is best to have a long list of options to choose from when naming a new company because it is important to check the availability of trademarks. A new name must be checked against the list of DBAs ("doing business as") to make sure there are no matches as well as against the US Patent and Trademark Office website ( for the business' class or industry. Variations on spellings should be searched as well because names that sound alike can't be registered in the same class. Finally, check to see what internet domains are still available. It's easier to trademark made up names like Accenture and Altria but these made up names create a challenge to get the customer to associate the name with your business, which can lead to expensive marketing and advertising costs.
  3. Watch out for: Naming a company after a person can help to establish trust and recognition, but can be a problem if that person's credibility comes in to question (Martha Stewart, Inc.). It's also best to avoid acronyms and initials which can be uninspiring or the names of geographical locations, which can be quickly outgrown.

A great company name can go far to boost a company's image and should be chosen with care.


Name two things an entrepreneur should consider before naming a new product or company.


Why is it important to have a backup plan for a company name or product?


Do a quick walk through your memory or the grocery store. Name 3 edible products that have great names and what specifically it is about the names that make them great.

Source "What's In a Name?," Inc., July 1, 2004, pNA
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