An interesting discussion is taking place this morning in the Guild. Balint’s incorporating his freelancing business, and is looking for naming advice.
I’ve been asked this question at least a half dozen times in the last year, and struggled with this when I incorporated my company.
You see, in the US it’s tantalizing easy to setup a new company. So when I went out my own, I knew I wanted my clients paying a company and not an individual. So I sent $100 to the state capital and incorporated “We Are Titans, Inc.”
Why Titans? Well, for one thing I liked all things Greek, having studied the classics in college. Additionally, it seemed… big. Even though it was just me, I wanted to appear like there was much more to the company than a 20-something year old in his home office. (Little did I know that in just a few years I’d swap the home office for a corner office downtown, surrounded by 10 other “titans” — so the name worked!)
Anyway, why I wanted to write about naming today was to answer the question that just about everyone who’s ever started a company has asked: Will I be shooting myself in the foot if I choose the wrong name?
There are two ways the name your company: Personally (“Dunn Consulting”) and non-personally (“We Are Titans”).
The issue I have with personal company names is that it sort of forces you to stay in the picture. One of the things I constantly struggled with when running my team was separating myself from being the point of contact for all of my clients, which as we grew became more and more complicated. But since the company brand didn’t include anything about me, when I smartened up I was able to better spread client loyalty across the team.
I haven’t seen any good evidence to suggest that a non-personal name has much influence in whether or not a prospect will come onboard as a client. In fact, choosing a quirky name like “We Are Titans” can actually have its benefits.
I remember attending a venture capital conference in Atlanta a few years back, and a stodgy banker looked at my business card, looked back at me, and then did a take back at my business card. Here was this scrawny kid in shorts handing over a business card that featured some ripped dude throwing a spear, with “WE ARE TITANS” boldly stated underneath.
(Needless to say, when I did my due diligence and emailed the banker a few days later when I was back at the office, he immediately remembered who I was. Apparently our company was the only that really stood out to him.)
There’s also the Google test. Is your company name easy to spell, and is it easy to claim the #1 spot on Google? If you name your company “Amazon Development” and I’m trying to find you, I’m less likely to try to weed you out of a bunch of entries from amazon.com.
My rules for naming:
- A name should not tie myself personally to the operations of the company. The only time I’d ever include my name in company would be if I were creating a holdings (or umbrella) company.
- A name should be easily rememberable. I don’t think you need to necessarily stuff what you do and your complete ethos into your name, but it should be something that isn’t easily to forget.
- A name should be easy to spell. There’s very little ambiguity around how to spell “Planscope” (outside of whether it’s one or two words) or “We Are Titans”. Which leads me to…
- A name should pass the Google test. Will you be able to easily rank for your company’s name?
I wouldn’t rush out and change your company’s name on account of this post, but if you are looking to incorporate either your consulting business or a product, hopefully these guidelines will help.