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  • Jacqueline Summers

Naming Your Business

How important is it to choose the right business name? In some ways, it is one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make when you start a business. Your business name is going to be one of your basic sales tools and will provide a first impression about what you do and how you do it. As with most business decisions, you should have your larger vision and target audience in mind. Are you a solopreneur planning to work from your home and steadily gain clients? Or are you planning to scale your business and sell nationally and internationally? Do you plan to sell tax assistance, yogurt, merchandise, or services to other businesses?

No matter what scale of business you have, a short and simple, easy-to-say name is probably going to serve you best in the long run. If it is difficult to say or say, it may be exasperating to repeat yourself or deal with the confusion. Think about answering the phone saying it, spelling it to vendors and customers, and explaining it to your Uncle Bob. A good business name often has a good story and can be a good way to share what the business does and it's goals.

Despite their best efforts, sometimes businesses make a good attempt and find out the name they have chosen isn’t working. Names that don’t send the right message or are confusing aren’t worth keeping. As a business matures, it can be part of your business development to make a change. Two local businesses, Wicked Smart Risk LLC and Komala Yoga Joy, present good examples of how businesses may develop away from original names and how a name change can be used to direct and define a business.

Erin Sedor developed the business and the logo and business name Wicked Smart Risk. The name and logo, which is a fox, make me laugh every time I see them. Everything about them appeals to me and gives me insight into how fun Erin would be to work with. Erin’s story, a year and a half into owning her business, highlights the unforeseen logo, name, branding challenges a small business owner may face. Although I liked how much personality Erin expressed with her name and logo, and lots of clients love it too, Erin reports that larger, more conservative companies often don’t. Further, the use of the word “risk” in the business name seems to send the wrong message and if they don’t already know her, they don’t call. Obviously, if a business owner is getting this kind of feedback, it is important to address it: even if she has put a lot of time and effort into her branding.

Again, Erin’s actions are a great case study for what a proactive business owner should do. Realizing she had a perception problem with larger companies, Erin has created a new business, titled Black Fox Strategy, which will target larger companies and be her executive consulting focus. She’ll retain Wicked Smart Risk and WickedSmart will be, “developed into an online resource for small businesses specific to tactical strategic planning and risk management.”

By understanding she was targeting two different markets, Erin has helped her business by strategically marketing to them both. She broadly marketed risk management strategies with her first launch, and now has two businesses going after specific targets. With additional time and information from clients, Erin can continue to develop marketing strategies for both of her businesses.

Komola Yoga Joy is actually using client information to go the opposite direction. Owner Kristiann Maclean is going from serving a niche market to a larger one. Originally called Mamanamaste, Kristiann’s business specialized in teaching gentle yoga classes to prenatal and postnatal mothers. Over the past couple of years, Kristiann has retained a focus on gentle yoga, but has now added classes for beginning yoga students, children, pulmonary patients, and cardiac patients. Because she is moving beyond her original business and widening her base, her new business name is more encompassing.

Deciding it was time for a change was easy, but actually choosing Komala Yoga Joy took many hours of research and deliberation. Internet research, running ideas by friends and family, and hours of reflection eventually led her to Komala Yoga Joy. “Komala” means gentle in Sanskrit and the other parts of the name were used to describe and differentiate the business. Although changing and choosing a new name was daunting, the process allowed Kristiann to re-examine her business goals, her target clients, and her marketing strategies. The effort to change her name has led into the process of developing her overall brand. Although it took quite a bit of effort, I believe Kristiann has developed a name that tells a great story and suits her and her business.

When you are choosing a name for your business keep in mind these following tips:

  • Use a thesaurus or glossary to find interesting synonyms

  • Don’t limit yourself based on domain-name availability (Tesla uses for example).

  • Try to appeal to your core customers (think of Erin’s conservative customers who didn’t like the word risk).

  • Think about your business strategy: where do you want to be in five years? Locally branded names like Denali, Alyeska, or Chugach won’t have much appeal beyond Alaska’s borders.

  • Do some research to build a name, brand, and logo.

  • Don’t be afraid to change it .

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