[thelist] What's in a name?

Green, Janet JGreen at DesMoinesMetro.com
Fri Apr 6 10:21:28 CDT 2001

>>>But does anyone have a 
specific convention for choosing the name that's right for them or is it 
just or miss? <<<

Peter, as a former freelancer, my advice is to name your business *first*,
and pick a domain name *second.* In my opinion, the business name you pick
should reflect your approach to doing business and the type of clients you
want to attract. If you go after funky coffee shops and informal clients,
then a name such as Peter Kaulback and Associates might seem too formal to
them. Conversely, if you build sites for investment firms, Flying Marsupial
Design Co. might be too quirky. 

Another consideration is memorability. You are going to use your business
name to build an identity for yourself, over time, and you want to pick
something that will be easily imprinted in prospects' minds. I had a hard
time with this one. When I started my freelance copywriting and graphic
design business, I hit upon the name, The Ad Shop Plus. Advantages were that
it was short and memorable, spoke of advertising, would be listed in the A's
alphabetically, and the "Plus" implied that I did more than just
advertising. Later, people told me that they got the impression that all I
*did* was create advertising - and since I was *primarily* doing video
scripting/producing, newsletter layout/writing, and eventually web design,
that name didn't really work out. But I'd dreamed it up late one night while
trying to fall asleep, and a great quirky idea for a business card came to
mind as well, so I stubbornly used it for over a year. I changed it to Green
& Company Creative Services (changing your name mid-stream is like losing a
HUGE chunk of what you have worked hard to build up to that point) and
that's what it was til I closed the business in March of last year. (Oddly
enough, the same people who thought The Ad Shop was non-descriptive were
STILL referring to me as The Ad Shop at the time I closed the place down.)
So, choose *carefully* and try to stick with it until you absolutely outgrow
it or take a new direction in your business.  

Another thought: I don't consider it pompous to use your personal name in
your business name, because as a service business, your personal reputation
is going to be on the line every time you deal with a client. Your entire
business identity will be wrapped up in your personal ability to deal with
clients and provide them with a satisfactory experience. I'd only advise you
to try to cover a few bases to anticipate the future (Peter Kaulback's Funky
Websites might be too restrictive five years from now, when you are getting
into something entirely new), and if you do use your personal name, maybe
add a descriptive word or phrase with it (Peter Kaulback Design as opposed
to Peter Kaulback and Associates, which could be a law firm or anything

With a business name chosen, selecting a domain name should be easy. Tie it
to the identity you create for your business, maybe an abbreviated version
of your business name. I originally used www.adshopplus.com, and ended up
with www.greencreative.com. A quirky name makes a great domain name because
it's memorable, but you may need to work a little harder imprinting your
business name in prospect's minds if it doesn't readily identify *what* you

Basic advice is this: select a business name that reflects your approach to
your work and communicates the image you want to project. Then select a
domain name that reinforces the identity established by your business name.
Don't force your marketing materials (business name, domain name,
letterhead, business card, etc.) to compete with each other for your
prospect's attention, but create a unified front.

:) Sorry, lots of info here. Hope it helps. 

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