What’s In a name?
Writers really take words seriously. Sometimes I can become so fixated on the proper word for a particular circumstance that it becomes my sole focus until satisfied.
The only time I’ve seen singular words matter this much to people who don’t write for a living is when it comes to names. And that should come as no surprise: Consider for a moment the importance of a name.
Of your name.
That’s you. It’s what people call you the duration of your life, and we rarely get to change that label. It stings with permanence, which is the big reason why parents-to-be agonize over choosing a name for their child. Aloysius or Joe? Cordelia or Anne? Gaelic or Hebrew or Italian or Mandarin? After the child’s grandparent or after that sci-fi show character on Hulu?
It often surprises me how much less effort goes into naming many businesses, products, and services.
Many businesses go all out with research, or expertly craft a name. But many more seem to throw darts at a wall and see what sticks. I think it comes down to two issues: not considering how permanent a name really is, or not having the confidence to choose a big name for a big cereal (or any other product).
Like branding versus marketing, a name can make or break a business. Amazon brilliantly has an A and a Z in the name, implying everything you need from A-Z. Starbucks has a double allusion to sailing: Starbuck, the first mate from Moby Dick and the iconic Siren from Greek mythology as the mascot. Do nautical epics sell coffee? No, but the theme is consistent and romantic.
The best business names imply what they do: Microsoft makes software for microcomputers (which are now just computers) and they’re more no-nonsense about their products: Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint! As in-creative as they may seem, they tell you exactly what they do, making even their names user-friendly, as per their reputation.
Would a Rose by any other name smell just as sweet? Sure, but nobody’s giving out Daffodils for Valentine’s Day, and there’s no Violet Bowl or Run for the Lilacs.
The naming of a product, service, or business can be the difference between selling out your inventory, or selling out of business. It can be the difference between getting funding from investors, crowdfunding, or licensing versus getting none of those things. And speaking of crowdfunding, a terrific event about just that (which includes talks on branding your product for crowdfunding) can be bought for a song here. I’ll be attending. Will you?