Q&A: How Important is My Business' Name to its Success?

Question: I’m in the process of setting up my own business and am trying to come up with a good name. I am unsure how far the name will end up defining my business. How important is my business’ name to its success?

Answer: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet,” muses Juliet, one half of the famed pair of star-crossed lovers. That’s all very well in the world of Shakespearean verse and poetry, but in a fiercely competitive climate permeated by aggressive marketing and branding, can a business really afford to pay no heed to its name and brand?

The answer, simply, is no. As David Placek, founder of brand-name consulting firm Lexicon, says, “Some words have characteristics that fire the imagination and generate interest. Don’t underestimate the power of a brand name to achieve things on its own for you.”

Names Matter

As a company dedicated to the pivotal role that names can play in the success of businesses, Lexicon has invested US$500,000 on researching how well each letter of the alphabet performs in a brand name. “Z” performs particularly well, and given that this is one of the least common letters of the alphabet, its success makes sense as business names containing the letter could come across as more unique and interesting, thus attracting more customers. It might also surprise you to learn that many multi-billion dollar corporations underwent a re-branding process before becoming the global names they are today and working their way into the public consciousness.

Search giant Google first came into being as BackRub, Sony was formerly known as Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering and Pepsi went by Brad’s Drink. It’s not hard to see why the present forms of these brand names resonate far more with consumers than their previous iterations, and you can hardly picture yourself saying, “BackRub that”.

Shakespeare had it Wrong

And if public reactions to a few misguided re-branding attempts are anything to go by, that by any other name would not smell as sweet. When Pizza Hut tried to change its name to “The Hut” in 2009, the public backlash was so great that the pizza chain only got around to changing the names at a few stores.

Similarly, online retailer Overstock.com attempted to change its name to O.co in 2011. The entailing confusion and tepid consumer response halted the company in its tracks, and the company has since stuck with its original name in all advertising material. Brand names are powerful entities in their own right. A company’s name is no longer a placeholder text or a way of identifying a business – it is the business itself. One can hardly begin to imagine the outcry that would ensue if beloved brands like Apple or Google attempted to change their names.

Names Define Businesses

Your business’ name will play a key role in shaping consumers’ initial impressions and expectations of it. As countless start-ups and enterprises have proved, naming your business is no frivolous matter. Ideally, you want to get it right the first try, and shoot for something that will endure the test of time and has the potential to develop into a timeless brand.

The name you come up with should capture the attention of your customers, have its own unique flavour and authenticity, and maybe even provide a hint of what the business does. After all, businesses, like people, are individuals, and a well-thought out name can make your marketing and branding efforts far easier, and help your business grow in the spotlight!

What are your thoughts on your business' brand? Share with us in the comment box below!

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