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Friday, August 19, 2011


As marketing consultants and graphic designers we seldom get to offer input on company names. When clients come to us, they almost always have a name in mind, and often have already registered that name with the proper bureaucracies. This is unfortunate because the company name is by far the most visible feature of any company and thus provides the greatest opportunity to make an effective and positive impression.

A successful brand is always associated with a recognizable name. The more the name can say about the company, the more effective a tool it can be in establishing the brand. To the extent feasible, without getting verbose or confusing, the name should  incorporate the elements of who, what and how and be interesting and invite further investigation. 

In our market place on the Big Island in Hawaii it seems nearly every company is named “Kona This” or “Big Island That” or “Aloha Something.” Not necessarily bad, but in the former case it’s redundant as your market already knows where they are. In the later case it’s marginally descriptive, very overused, and usually suspect, not unlike “Honest Bob’s Used Cars.”

Other Names may incorporate the names of the owner or principal(s), not necessarily a bad idea if the company is primarily the people involved, as is often the case in professional and service businesses. “John Doe, Attorney at Law,” “Smith Plumbing” or “Bob’s Painting,” however, do little to convey more than minimal information, and have no marketing value at all.

Better Names might say something about what the company does, plus how it does it, and how it may be different or better than the other guy. Better names may also incorporate an element of curiosity, or multiple meaning, or interesting alliteration. Yet the name still needs to be “short and sweet”, or in other words, easy to say, understand and remember.

Some of the best names in use today contain some or all of these elements and have become part of the national lexicon. Names like Google, Under Armour, Pay Pal, Jiffy Lube, You Tube and Farnham Associates Marketing Solutions.

Following is an outline on how to WHIP up an effective company name.

NAME = W. H. I. P.

W - Who are you? What do you do?
H - How do you do it? How are you different and/or better?
I - Does your name Invite further investigation?
P - Does your name Peak customer/client interest?

Quote  of the day: “In modern business it is not the crook who is to be feared most, it is the honest man who doesn’t know what he is doing.”  William Wordsworth 

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