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Small Business Development Center
Member, Texas Tech University System The Princeton Review - 373 Best Colleges, 2011 Edition

Give much thought to naming business

March 16, 2014

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Got a great idea for a business? Got a great name for that great idea for a business? Does anyone else own that great name for that great idea that you have for a business? Better check on that.

I am of the opinion that selecting the correct name for any endeavor has never been as important as it is today. Your business name will be bounced between all different venues of social media, TV and radio as well as print media. The name you select might even become a sought-after window decal.

During my research for assistance to a client, I came across two different avenues for selecting a business name. First is advice from a professional naming company and the second is a “crowd-source” business naming opportunity.

The San Francisco-based naming company’s chief innovation officer, Alexandra Watkins, offers some potential ideas. “Pick a name that lends itself to wordplay,” she suggests. In fact, the very company Watkins works for is called “Eat My Words.” The company blog is called the Kitchen Sink. The same theme is carried over into all branding. Checking out their portfolio indicates they have a good success rate in naming companies and products.

Watkins continues by stating the name should be simple, easy to spell and pronounce.

“Any time you have to explain your name or apologize for it, you’re just devaluing your brand,” Watkins said.

She also states selecting the domain is important. She makes a case for using the .com, but then grants some leeway by comparing the different extension possibilities to the 1-800 phone numbers.

“When 1-800 became scarce, we simply started recognizing 866, 877 and 888 as toll-free numbers,” Watkins said.

With all the different extensions available, research the appropriateness of using them as the .org usually is reserved for nonprofit organizations.

Before finalizing any name, double-check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for duplication possibilities. If the name you selected shows up in the search results, it does not mean you can’t use it. Different class categories are assigned to the commercial product. The words “Blue Bell” show up in the trademark search 357 times. Yes, several for Blue Bell ice cream, but also for crayons, a café and an inn.

If you find you are having difficulty in even coming up with possible names, you can turn to the Internet for assistance. One crowdsourcing site, NamingForce, does just that. For a fee, you can have hundreds of participants submit hundreds of names from which to choose.

Basically you submit your business idea, some likes and dislikes in words, possible keywords, what nuances you want included, and how you wish your business to be perceived. Then that data goes out to the mass audience of creative people who compete for the winning name. The fee you pay goes to the winning name. Since 2010 there have been more than 1.1 million names submitted by 9,356 namers.

While writing this article, I ended up signing in as a namer. Guess that makes it 9,357 namers. Call us at the ASU SBDC and we’ll get together to help you get started in selecting just the right name for your business or product.

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    Peggy Hodges Rosser, Business Development Specialist and Rural Business Manager

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