Amazon: The longest river in South America, and the second longest in the world. This image pales in comparison with the strong name recognition of one of the largest commercial websites on the Internet, Amazon.com. (Interestingly enough, the website’s name was almost “Cadabra,” a short form of abracadabra. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, changed his mind when his lawyer mistakenly thought Jeff was saying cadaver.) This leads us to a few important things to keep in mind while naming your company:
- Don’t choose a name that sounds like something else, particularly something unappealing. Like Bezos, you may not pick up the potential distortions, so try it out on friends, family, and particularly teenagers and young children. Check with them to make sure there are no slang words that are similar.
- A name with meaning is more meaningful. When Bezos chose Amazon, he liked the fact that his website – launched as “Earth’s biggest book store,” was named after the Earth’s largest river. Even if no one knows what it means but you and your future employees, this inner meaning helps link the name with your vision for the company.
- Think in business terms. The other reason Bezos chose Amazon was at the time websites were often listed alpha graphically, so Amazon would appear near the top. That was like the old yellow-pages days when companies would be named AAAA Auto Mechanics, to place a company in the first slot for its category. Now, it’s worthwhile to ensure that your company’s name is unique and doesn’t resemble another company’s name in your industry.
- Make it easy, make it memorable. Your company’s name should be spelled just like it sounds. Don’t make it any harder than it has to be. You may lose customers who can’t figure out how to spell your name well enough to find your website. Next, choose a name that will stay with people. It helps if it’s recognizable – a name that means something is better than the pseudo-names you will see large corporations pay lots of money to have a consulting firm generate, unless of course you’re Google and can make a name memorable.
- Connect the name to the purpose of your business. There’s a small company called Simplistic Designs that makes beautiful handmade brass hair ornaments. Unfortunately the company’s name provides no clue to its purpose. What do they sell? It could be anything from toys to clothing to architecture. Also, by choosing a more generic name, the owner has done nothing to help search engines find it. This man’s decision for his company’s name is probably costing him business every day, even though his product might be terrific.
- Choose a name that will last. Amazon’s original tagline, “Earth’s biggest bookstore,” is now completely out-of-date, but the Amazon name still works as the company’s purpose and products have grown. Like the challenge of growing up with a name parents thought was cute for their baby – you don’t want a company name that will be fun when you’re small but limiting or even irritating as you grow.
Your company’s name is one of the first decisions you make when you start your business. Don’t just toss ideas around and select the best one you come up with over an afternoon. Take the time to really explore until you discover just the right title for your brand new company. After all, you want the name and the company to be part of your life for a long time to come.
Photo Source: soumit