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A Good Business Name Must Be Bold: Oh, Really?

Visit just about any blog of a high-priced naming consultant, and they�ll tell you with oracular confidence that a business name, to succeed, must be X, Y or Z. This is bluster. It is a branding statement of their own, arguing for the kinds of company names they like to create and against the kinds of company names they personally look down on. Such rules are not a valid-for-every-situation fact.

The naming �must� you�ll encounter most often is this one: A Good Business Name Must Be Bold. It must make a statement. It must stand out. It must call attention to itself.

Yes, that�s often a good idea, especially for a new operation that needs to earn publicity, word of mouth and market share. But not always. Consider a community bank that is expanding into new territory, across a river that to residents marks a mental boundary. Its number one concern is whether or not its current name encompasses the new geographical area in residents� minds. If not, they may be looking for a new name that provides continuity with their current name yet includes the locations where they�re opening new branches. Boldness is nowhere on this bank�s list of naming criteria.

Indeed, it�s a rare bank that goes for, or should go for, a bold name, one with emotional impact and shock value. Much more important for banks is engendering trust. Other goals might be emphasizing rootedness, history or connection. Banks - and many financial services companies - need different naming criteria than a footwear company or an adventure travel firm.

It might surprise you to know that I have had clients hire my naming company wanting a name that didn�t stand out. In one case, a financial advisor was moving to a new city and wanted a company name that would blend into the background, not attract any attention and make people assume he�d been doing business there forever.

I encourage you to wipe the slate clean of what you�ve read or heard and think first about what you hope the new business name you are looking for will accomplish. Do consider guidelines and �musts� because they point to naming factors you might otherwise overlook. Don�t let your goals get overruled by someone else�s branding agenda.

Don�t be intimidated into looking for or accepting a company name that can�t take you where you want to go!

Marcia Yudkin is Head Stork of Named At Last, a company that brainstorms creative business names, product names and tag lines for clients. For a systematic process of coming up with an appealing and effective name or tag line, download a free copy of "19 Steps to the Perfect Company Name, Product Name or Tag Line" at www.namedatlast.com/19steps.htm

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