I’ve had “the naming discussion” with entrepreneurs many times. It usually goes like this – I’ll be asked for my opinion on a new name or several variations thereof for a new product, service or business venture. Then often follows an explanation of the name or names which are being considered.
Title Should Equal Content
Here’s my take on naming – if you need to explain the name, to me that’s an automatic fail. Title should equal content. In other words if the name doesn’t make it automatically obvious what the product, service or business is, then you’re starting from behind.
When I give people this advice some shake their heads in disbelief. What about great brands with unusual names like Nike, Apple, Skype, Amazon etc? Surely I must be missing something by giving such simplistic advice?
Here’s the thing. All of the big brands spend hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising to educate people who they are and what they do. How much are you willing to spend to do the same?
Here we’re not even talking about advertising that sells or generates leads. We’re talking about advertising that merely tells people what you do. I can’t think of a bigger waste of money.
By using a non-obvious name, you start from behind and then have to make up for by spending a lot of money on advertising to rectify the situation.
All you had to do to avoid this colossal waste of money was call your business “Fast Plumbing Repairs”, which immediately explains what you do and what you stand for, rather than “Aqua Solutions” after which you have to explain that Aqua is the Latin for water and that you provide “complete plumbing solutions” (whatever that means) hence the name “Aqua Solutions”.
If You Confuse Them, You Lose Them
So many times I’ve seen business or product names whoes meaning is unclear. Sometimes it’s a corny play on words, other times it’s an obscure literary reference and still other times it’s some made up word, the meaning of which is only apparent to the creator.
The reality is no matter how clever your name is, very few people will go to the trouble of trying to decipher it’s meaning or origin. These things may be important to you because it’s your baby, but rarely does a customer or prospect give it even a split second of thought.
What’s even worse is that being “clever” often creates confusion and works against you. One of the core principals of marketing is that confusion leads to no sales. If you confuse them, you lose them. It’s that simple. Always choose clarity over cleverness.
It’s hard enough to get a message read, understood then acted upon at the best of times. But intentionally adding confusion into the mix when you’re a small business with a modest marketing budget is madness.
Lastly, please don’t ask friends and family for their opinion on your clever new name. They’ll of course praise your idea and complement you, which feels nice, but it’s unlikely to be truly helpful.
By all means test and get opinions but do so from objective people who are part of your target market – not from those who already know what you’re about.
Naming can work for you or against you and is expensive and difficult to change down the track, so give it thought, effort and above all else focus on clarity.
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