What’s your name?

iStock_nametag color 2Seattle telecom entreprenuer Chris Rugh has an article in the new issue of Octane magazine about one of the burning issues in branding: Naming a business.

Of course, there’s no “right” way to do it. Working in PR, marketing, and non-profit development, I’ve been involved in several projects in which the stumbling block was an organization’s name. I’ve fretted over clear, memorable names that no longer described an evolving organization. I’ve struggled to make vague or complex names somehow vivid and memorable. And I’ve seen people lose their companies (and a lot of money) trying to hold onto a name that was difficult to trademark.

Chris’ article is informed by years of experience in buying and selling businesses and their assets, and in creating several companies of his own. If you’re starting a business, or developing a product, and are in the naming phase, “It’s All in a Name” will give you a very good idea of what you’re getting into.

Another excellent Seattle resource on business naming is Christopher Johnson, the linguist who blogs as The Name Inspector. Check the blog to find out more about his current experiment: Special prices on business name consultations, in-person or by phone.

From an SEO perspective, a business or product name is a fascinating double-edged sword. Name your company “Sandy’s Organic Soap” and you’re competing with a tsunami of search results for soap purveyors. But get cute with a name like “Sandy’s Sopes” and list your products as “sope” on your site, and the folks who are looking for a soap company in Portland (but don’t know or can’t remember the name) will have difficulting finding you using the obviously keywords “Portland” and “soap.” (There are SEO techniques you can use to compensate in either of the situations — and you’d want to deploy them.)

FTC disclosure: I have provided web content services for Chris Rugh’s 1-800 numbers company, Custom Toll Free.

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