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What’s in a name?

July 19, 2016 by Klaus Uhlig
It has happened to us all at some time or another. We’re introduced to someone, chat for a while and then for the life of us, can’t remember that person’s name.

Now what if the tables were turned; how would you react if it were your name that someone couldn’t remember. Or worse yet, your business’s name.

Although most of us don’t usually choose our names, giving us little control over whether it’s memorable – we do get to choose the name of our business. Selecting the right name for your company is important; get it right and customers will easily remember it, get it wrong and you may lose out on potential business.

A name that is too big, too complex or feels like a mouthful of marbles when trying to say it is difficult to remember – especially when you also can’t remember how to pronounce it. This could work in your favour, as you become, for example, the-company-whose-name-I-can-never-remember-that-does-graphic-design. But you’re more likely to be forgotten and passed over for the next guy.

In a time before computers, Internet, URLs and email, a small business’s name was only used on letterhead, business cards and office signage. So a name that was difficult to remember, say and even spell wasn’t such a big deal. It was more about visual identity. Today, it is a recipe for disaster. A difficult name will constantly be mistyped when someone is looking online, hampering their chances of finding you and increasing their chances of finding your competitors.

So when starting out, how do you give your business a name? A common practice is to name a company after yourself. I did that here at uhlig.ca. It’s a good idea especially if you’re still testing the industry waters. What better name, than the name you were given.

But if your name isn’t easy to remember, as your business grows and evolves, your unique name can work against you. Yes, even if your company name is simply your first and/or last name – if it’s hard to remember or gives someone a mouthful of marbles, it’s time to think about changing it. Can you shorten your name? Or abbreviate it?

Look at BMW, for example. A well recognized name – but did you know that it actually stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, which translates to Bavarian Motor Works. And once upon a time, H&R Block was a small business founded by two brothers – Henry and Richard Bloch. (The different spelling of the last name in the company name was to make sure that no one mispronounced it!)

Your company name represents your brand. You want to be memorable, yes, but if you’re not findable and shareable, your name is not doing its job.
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