What’s in a business name?

07/11/2014 2:39 PM

07/11/2014 2:39 PM

This week’s “Ask the Mompreneur” features an interview with Cynthia Kellogg, gifting expert and the founder of the cash-gift registry GiftGather.com.  (You can use GiftGather.com to set up a “fund” for your wedding/honeymoon, birthday, graduation, or other special event, or you can use it to collect funds from a group of people chipping in on a gift for someone.)


Ask the Mompreneur


Of the many challenges business owners face, one that may not immediately come to mind is the question of what to name your business.  I know that you've had experience tackling this issue for your company, Gift Gather.  What advice do you have for other business owners who are either in the naming process or thinking of re-naming an existing business?


Cynthia Kellogg


I learned the hard way how important a great business name truly is.  Over the course of one year, I changed names three times.  I started off with “Instead Of A Gift,” a common phrase I used to describe my business, and shortly thereafter transitioned to “GFTGTHR.”  After a few painful months where I was inundated with negative feedback, I finally changed it to “Gift Gather.”  Our tagline is “Friend Funding For One Awesome Gift.”


I had to cough up some cash and negotiate our purchase of the URL – which took about 40 days – but it has all been worth it, because your business name is your first impression to your customers.


Top lessons I learned:


You can’t please everyone


Someone will always dislike your business name and suggest you change it.  As soon as I introduced “Gift Gather” as our new name, someone pulled me aside and told me I needed to change it because “Gift” was not the right word.  I have gotten used to people giving me their opinions on everything I am doing, and now I only take these opinions seriously if I hear them repeatedly.


Name changes require paperwork


It is a lot of work to legally change the name of your business.  First, I had to update our name with our state’s SOS and our foreign corporation’s SOS.  I updated our merchant accounts, bank accounts, and our credit cards.  I had to inform our customers and vendors and I also had to change/update all of our social media accounts.  And I had to do all this three times!


Don’t get too creative


Creativity can work against you.  If you have to constantly explain your name, you should change it.  GFTGTHR’s tagline was, “We Say Gift Gather.”  Looking back, I recommend avoiding misspelled words, leaving out vowels, and making up words.  Instead, focus on creativity that works for you, such as names that have a personal story behind them, synonyms to common words relevant to your business, and my favorite type of creativity is names that draw up an image, such as Ripple Marketing.


Every business is different, but here’s some advice on how to give your business a great name:


Start with words you like


Start with words you are drawn to and write them down.  If you need a place to start, ask yourself the questions mentioned in “Master the 4 P’s of Branding,” by Juan Garzon.  Why does your company exist?  What do you commit to doing every single time?  What words do people use to describe your company?  How are you different from your competitors?


Optimize for search


Think about what words your customers are likely to type into Google when trying to find your type of service or product.  Check out those words on Google Trends and play with the keyword planner in your Google Adwords Account.  Words with high SEO might be a bit more generic, but they will drive potential customers to your website.  Put your business name to work!


Brainstorm and test


Brainstorm with your team and come up with multiple options.  Write them down and then get feedback on several top choices from your network or potential customers.  Remain neutral throughout this process, and try to avoid revealing your personal favorite.


Then test the top 3-5 choices with an ad campaign.  Keep the text in the ad the same, but use the different names in the ad headline.  You can spend as little as $100 to see which one performs the best.


A business name is an invitation


Finally, remember that a great business name will relay your purpose and promise so that a customer gets a glimpse of the value you offer.  Ideally, your business name will entice people to engage with your further, and will have customers asking, “Tell me more.”


Jennie Wong, Ph.D. is a business coach and nationally syndicated writer.  Her baby product quiz website for parents covers everything from baby bathtubs to strollers and can be found at www.ABorC.com.



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