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Susan Ward

Your Business Name: Descriptive or Unique?

By May 8, 2009

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Over at the Small Business Marketing Guide, Anita Campbell tackles the question of whether it's better to choose a business name that's descriptive or to make up some unique name that's never existed before.

The advantages of a descriptive business name have always seemed obvious to me. If you read How to Create a Winning Business Name you'll see that that's the kind of business name I'm writing about.

I take to heart Anita's point about the naming process for small businesses and corporations being different - after all, they have different needs and different available resources. The big thing for small businesses is to have a business name that helps people find and remember your business. So for small businesses, I will continue to recommend descriptive names. As Anita says:

"I like descriptive business names because they do not require as much work to convey what the business does. That is especially useful for small local businesses without much of an advertising budget, where the name on a sign or on a vehicle or in the yellow pages may be the only sort of advertising you can afford" (Choosing a Brand Name: Descriptive or Unique Coined Word?, Small Business Trends).
Howver, that doesn't mean that I believe that if you're a small business, you should never use a unique business name. Unique-coined names certainly can set your brand apart, be easier to trademark, and give you a lot more leeway in terms of adding different products and/or services to your business.

You'll definitely want to read through Anita's list of the advantages and disadvantages of Descriptive vs. Unique Names before you decide.

More on Choosing a Business Name

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May 8, 2009 at 7:39 pm
(1) John Krech says:

Great post. At ePhiphony we believe a name should be descriptive and unique. As a whole, our name is intertwined with our mantra to “Reveal Hidden Wealth”. The individual components or syllables e – Phi – ph -ony continue to tell our story. First e communicates our solution is electronic and easy. Furthermore, -Phi also known as the “Golden Ratio” to us communicates the optimum balance of cost and cash at maximum economic profit. Finally, -ph and -ony communicate like a symphony that we bring all the elements of a business together in harmony, with each element being an inventory item.

Our product Phitch is the same way. As a whole the name communicates that our solution defines the frequency of ordering an inventory item in the same way that pitch does in music, where the process of assigning note names to pitches is called tuning. Phitch fine tunes each inventory item by defining when to order and how much to order at the point of maximum economic profit, which again is symbolized by Phi. The best part of our product naming strategy – it was created by my 11 year old daugther.

While someone will not see all this at first glance of our name, as they continue to learn more about our solution and our unique selling position it comes out in very subtle ways. Best of all, our uniqueness is a often a great introduction to tell/describe our story.

February 8, 2010 at 11:21 am
(2) Jack says:

Unique names draw attention to a business and usually stick in your head., although they may not describe what the business does. I have to disagree with the last paragraph of [John Krech] though. If someone doesn’t understand what your business does by looking at the name, they won’t bother learning more about it or asking about the story behind the name. They’ll just go with someone else with a boring name that describes exactly what they do.

(I realize this article is almost a year old, but thought I’d post in case someone else comes across the article.)

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