The Name Game

entrepreneurWhen entrepreneurs start up a business one of the decisions to be made is the name. A large portion of our businesses are named after the owner (yours truly included). While this may be an easy way to get things started, it may not always be the best. As a recent New York Times article pointed out, there is both good and bad about naming a company after yourself.

On the plus side, you can build a powerful personal brand, there is a lot of recognition for you, the founder, and people like businesses that are associated with a person versus a static object or a made-up word. Assuming you have a good reputation, this can help get the word out about your new company and from then on YOU become the company and vice versa. In my consulting practice, it was easy, and it made sense as I could leverage the reputation I had built up over the years as an executive coach and strategic planner. This can also be powerful if you come from a well-known or famous family name, you can leverage the hard work of your parents or grandparents.

However, the list of negatives for naming a company after yourself is long. First, if you don’t want to be the face of the company forever you probably shouldn’t use your own name. Selling the business might be harder if you are the brand and are no longer with the business – it could lessen the value considerably. If you or one of your relatives does something infamous, your brand will be tarnished or potentially sink like a stone. It’s true that many companies referenced in the article have become the product after generations and no longer the name (Procter and Gamble) but those are few and far between.

The other consideration when coming up with a name is not just what your company is today but what might it be in the future. If you call yourself the Printer Supply Company and then down the road expand into a different type of product line or service, it will take some time and money to rebrand as the new entity.

Lastly, don’t pick something unpronounceable, hard to spell or just too odd. If it’s a made-up word, you will have to educate folks, so be sure you have a good brand strategist at the start. Just like naming your children something that will make them stand out in a way that is potentially a negative for the rest of their lives, (think Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter ‘Apple’), give it some thought before slapping a “name” on your business baby.