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A Rose by Any Other Name? Why Your Company Name Matters

The popular quote from the Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet states: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This reference is made when Juliet argues it should not matter that her love, Romeo, is from her family’s rival house of Montague. The statement implies that the names of things do not ultimately affect what they are; that is to say, names don’t matter.

In truth, names do matter. In fact, research has shown that something as simple as customer and investor ability to pronounce your company name can make a huge difference in its overall success. One study discovered that stocks with easier to pronounce names outperformed those with names that were more difficult to pronounce. Between 1990 and 2004, researchers found that those with the simplest names earned 11 percent more stock on the first day of trading than those with the most difficult names, and over the course of the year, the difference increased to 33 percent.

Whether you have been tossing around business names with your partners or have opted to utilize a business name generator, there are some rules of thumb you should follow when making that final decision.

Your company name should be memorable and easy to spell. Your potential consumers need to be able to remember your business name, so try to choose something that is interesting and distinctive. One thing that helps a name memorable is the use of some literary or poetic devices, like alliteration. Think Coca-Cola, Best Buy, PayPal, and Dunkin’ Donuts to name a few. Rhyming company names like StubHub and monikers that use assonance (a repeated vowel) can also create a pleasing sound to the ear. But just as important, your customers need to be able to find what they’re looking for in a hard copy phone book or online. Unique business names are good, but difficult or unusual spellings are a bad idea.

Your company name should be simple. Long, difficult business names or those that try to cram too much into it can be unwieldy for consumers to utilize or the general public to understand. Odd names are often a distraction from the information and image you want to present to your consumers. They may also be confusing to older generations or appear too trendy to younger ones. It’s not just about breaking through the clutter and connecting with everyday consumers, either. Startups need to appeal to investors, and it’s important to streamline your pitch to get your message across to all your stakeholders with a word or two that means only one thing. A normal word also creates a clear visual effect for consumers, which is another issue to consider.

Your company name should create a visual image or effect. Most people want to be able to visualize something when they hear or read information. We are hard-wired as literate individuals to “see” images when language is read or spoken, so it is important to a successful business name to incorporate a visual image or element into it. Not only can it assist in helping your consumers remember the name, but it will also serve as a powerful advertising and advantageous marketing tool in the future. Say the name “Dunkin’ Donuts,” and you’re sure to conjure up images of fresh, fluffy breakfast baked goods just asking to be submerged in a steaming hot cup of coffee.

Your company name should have a positive connotation. Most words have both a denotation which is a literal meaning and a connotation which is an emotional meaning associated with the word. Connotations can be positive, neutral or negative, depending on emotional associations people make. Think about how the words “thin” and “skinny” might mean approximately the same thing by definition, but the former has a definitive positive connotation while the latter is less appealing. When you’re choosing your company’s name, you will want to choose appropriate words and phrases that people will associate positively with your business and make sure that they are fitting for your industry.

Your company name should inform consumers what your business does or sells. If what you are providing is not readily accessible in your company name, you may want to reconsider it. “Stateline Store” might tell you a general location where the business can be found, but it isn’t going to help your company attract potential customers. Many companies include their industry in their business name to ensure attracting the right clients. Using words like “nail salon,” “landscaping,” “eatery,” and “HVAC” means that consumers are not struggling to figure out what products or services are sold. Be sure to choose a business name that tells your story.

There are other rules of thumb that you can use when deciding on a perfect business name for your company. What are some company names that stand out to you? Feel free to share below.