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Ask Mr. MarketingColumns

Does your company name really matter?

Last night I watched “In Name Only” with Cary Grant. He runs Richard Walker & Company, though we never learn what the firm does.

My thoughts drifted to my new venture, Write Away Books. In three words you learn enough to further explore, assuming you’re interested in writing books.

Of Mr. Walker, one must assume he purposely left his company’s goals mysterious. Perhaps he’s involved in nefarious activities. Maybe he’s confused…or just has a big ego.

I’m guessing the latter.

If someone’s feeding their ego, naming the company after themselves makes perfect sense. However, those wishing to sell stuff should re-think that strategy.

An organization’s name can be critical to its success. Buying a company means owning the inventory, real estate, website…and name. Using a business’ branded name ensures you’ll easily maintain existing customer relationships.

Say you’re a customer of ABC Carpet Company. The XYZ Corp. buys them and doesn’t use the familiar ABC name or offer any explanation. Think you’ll be in a hurry to work with XYZ?

Yet if XYZ spent a year presenting both names together, they’d enable customers to get used to the idea of ABC’s new ownership. Should the ABC name vanish one day, XYZ’s name would be recognized and accepted.

Names like Unicorn Jewelry and 5 Star Auto Repair are obvious. Names like Macy’s are not.

Sure, Macy’s runs the Thanksgiving parade and anchors every shopping mall. Everyone knows they’re a department store, right? Only it took decades for that awareness to be widespread, at the cost of many millions of dollars.

Most businesses aren’t willing or able to invest that much to build a relatively generic name into a market force. They can short-circuit the process by making their name straightforward and simple.

Now consider your company name. Regardless of what you sell, would a stranger take one look and understand the business you’re in? If not, it’s not a good name.

Jones Legal Services makes good marketing sense. Jones Corp. doesn’t.

Finally, if you insist on naming the company to satisfy your ego, plan to have a robust marketing budget for promoting yourself and building recognition. You’re going to need it.

Or you can just help yourself by creating a clever, straightforward name that tells what you do without questions.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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