This article completes our main features for March 2008. Congrats! You’ve decided you want to own your own business. You did the prerequisite self- evaluation. Now it’s time to choose the name for your business. If you decided to go with purchasing a franchise, per our last talk, then you don’t have much of a choice as the name has already been chosen for you. If, however, you decided to start a new business, then there are some important things to consider in choosing the right name for your business.
One of the best advice I got was when you choose a name, practice saying it and pretend answering to it on the phone. Do you like the way the name of your business sounds when you answer the phone, the 15th hundred times? Does it sound cumbersome? If yes, have pity on the employees you will hire who will have to say that name over and over and over again! Here are some concrete tips on choosing the right name for your business. I will use some business names on this site to illustrate my point.
Choose names that are memorable, short and easy to pronounce: Get to the point! Make it easy to spell and pronounce. Examples: Bobby Taylor, Toni Payne, Sun Goddess and Ella Brown.
Choose Names that are Unique: Examples: Ifa Lethu, Machere, Alphadi, Ladybrille are all unique names. Common names like “Fashion America,” “Fashion Diva,” “Bella,” “Nigerian Entertainment,” can and do cause confusion with that of a competitor. All you have to do is google those names and the results are overwhelming with gazillions having those names. You don’t want to waste precious time explaining for the gazillionth time, “No! we are not the “Fashion Diva” you are looking for.”
Avoid Using your personal Name for Business-Yes, you read me right. The big trend is to use your name to do business. For example, Tyra Banks, Isaac Mizrahi, Deola Sagoe, David Tlale, Vera Wang, Peter Som e.t.c. That is all good and dandy and in fact can be advantageous if your name is already well known and respected within your community. But, when scandal hits [whether via a new owner you sell your business to who screws up your reputation or just associating with someone who is involved in a scandal] or your business takes a nose dive as it did for Isaac Mizrahi, then your name is soiled. Mizrahi bounced back but not everyone can.
KISS! stands for “Keep It Simple [Silly]!” and remains very relevant. Get rid of the fancy names and get to the point. Also factor in the cost of doing business with your name. With cumbersome long names or fancy stuff, it adds up from directory business listings to signages.
Choose Names that are flexible: Lots make the mistake of choosing names that pigeonhole them into one thing. For example, Shoe Lounge. While it is easy to remember and gives a good description of the product offered, at some point you might decide you don’t want to sell shoes anymore. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring along the customer base you have worked so hard for to your new expansion/venture? Ella Brown is a good example for the flexible use of a name. The name is used for couture, cosmetics, fragrance and bridal wear.
Choose names that will withstand the rigors of trademarks.Avoid ordinary, generic names and as I mentioned before even personal names. Again, it is common to see things like: “Fashion,” “Africa”, “Nigeria,” “Entertainment,” used together. The above are so generic and would have a hard time with trademarks because of the rationale that if protection is granted to “fashion,” for example, or “Fashion Entertainment,” one company would have a monopoly and could stop all others from using the name of the goods/services. Personal names also make for weak trademarks but if it has been used for a long time, and has a following it will make the mark stronger.
Be sure your name is descriptive: Ladybrille, while a flexible name like Ella Brown, tells you nothing about what it means or stands for. Adding our slogan, “Where the West Meets Today’s African fashion Industry” becomes important. It quickly lets you know our identity and niche and that fashion is our thing. Another very descriptive name, although long, is “ShopMosaicOnline.com” You quickly know it involves shopping online. Bobby Taylor also does this very well. Her slogan is “Because you are Buzz Worthy.” That conjures up promotions, marketing, PR.
Until the next fashion entrepreneur teachings, your assignment is to get your writing pad and brainstorm the right name for your business using the pointers outlined in this article. Good luck and if you wish, feel free to send us the name you chose.
~by Uduak Oduok
Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.