My Marketing Thing

3 things people forget about a new business name

Choosing a name

A client recently got in touch about finding a name for a new business.  The staff brainstorm had already happened back at the client’s office.  You could have called it a tsunami.  

The client wanted my feedback on their ideas. The staff had obviously gone through every thesaurus on the planet. They had also given their best college try to be fun and creative.

But my feedback changed everything.

The team had started off well. A pretty thorough job had also been done on analysing how the competition was branding themselves. What seemed to work ‘out there’ and what didn’t.

One staff member had actually gone to the trouble of writing out the key elements of the business and what makes them different (called a ‘USP’ – unique selling proposition).  Three key messages had been identified.  All great stuff.

You would think all the boxes were ticked.  But they weren’t.

Let’s say the client’s business was about recruitment.  The list the staff came up with were generally one-word shots, like ‘connection’, ‘fusion’, ‘empower’, and  ‘dovetail’.

Each word was a vague gesture towards at least one of the three key messages. I felt sorry for the words.  An awful lot of pressure had been put on them. They needed support. They needed context.

When choosing a new business name it can be helpful to imagine how the name is going to sit in a logo.  And when you do this, consider the following:

Ask: What is your industry?

If you are in recruitment consider having ‘recruitment’ in the name.  There are two good reasons to try this out:

1.Potential clients will then know immediately what industry you’re in (i.e. how you can help them)

2.You have a nice keyword in your domain name (good for Google searching)

So instead of just ‘dovetail’, see the name as ‘Dovetail Recruitment’.


Ask: Is it available?

A quick gander on Google and you’ll see that all the business names (connection, fusion, empower and dovetail), along with the word ‘recruitment’, have been taken somewhere in the world.  

Important note:  Don’t just check if you can register it as a business name and if it’s already trademarked.  You need a good website address as well. The hat trick.

If you want to have a global presence, finding a name that is still available can be challenging.  If you want to be more local, then it is generally less of a problem.  

Either way, it is worth going through the process as thoroughly as you can to end up with a name that works.


Ask: What’s your tagline?

Let’s keep with ‘Dovetail Recruitment’ as a business name for now.  It sounds okay and we know what you do.  But what makes you different from other recruitment agencies?

This is where a tagline becomes helpful.  A tagline can really push home what is special about you.

Perhaps your recruitment business has a special screening process that has a unique, lateral approach to finding the right person for the job.  The process screens candidates for qualities beyond the usual criteria that other agencies use.

What could your tagline be?  Perhaps something like:

Lateral recruitment for better results.

So we’re now looking at:

Dovetail Recruitment
Lateral recruitment for better results

The positives about the line is that it prompts the question ‘What is lateral recruitment?’.  A potential client might call you on the basis of that question.

To a lesser degree it prompts another question: “better results than who?”.  The imagined answer would be “Better than those silly-moo linear recruiters that you usually hire”.

But the line needs improvement.  Firstly, you don’t need ‘recruitment’ in the tagline when it’s already in the name.  And it might be good to try a more personal approach. After all, this is a ‘people business’.

So let’s make it:

Dovetail Recruitment
Your lateral resource for better results

But what if we think (after some market testing) that the term ‘Wide Net’ might be worth introducing?  The word ‘lateral’ is still quite effective…  Do you change the tagline or change the name?  Be bold.  Try changing the name and see how it feels.

Wide Net Recruitment
Your lateral resource for better results

Compare this business branding example to one small brainstorm word: ‘dovetail’. See the difference?


The punch line

I’m not saying ‘Wide Net Recruitment’ is the best name for this particular business.  Or that ‘Your lateral resource for better results’ is the best tagline. The point is, the business and the tagline need to work together for the key message to come through powerfully and succinctly. Combined, they need to say what you do and why you are special.

Test them both on your target market.  Ideally, this means a good swag of people that don’t know you from Adam.  This way you will have a better chance of receiving helpful, objective feedback.


One final tip:

Say the business name.  Don’t just write it. I’ve seen too many names where the potential client would hesitate before attempting to pronounce the darn thing.

You might think the name is straightforward to pronounce, but always test it. Use a flash card and get strangers to speak it out loud.

Then, by all means, sing your new business name from the rooftops.

Megan Hills is a writer, marketing consultant and cartoonist – more about Megan

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One Comment

  1. Naming is an important part of any branding process. Nice read Megan, thanks for sharing.

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