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Motel sign that reads "What's in a Name?"

One of the most important elements in branding is your company’s name. However, most entrepreneurs do not realize how important this is when starting a business. Most companies are named after the person who founded them or a nearby geographical feature. Schwarzschild Jewelers was probably named after someone named SchwarzchildJames River Air Conditioning Co.James River EquipmentJames River Insurance Company, and the thousand other companies called James River have one thing in common….take a guess.

Other company names are descriptive, and the name is synonymous with their product or service.  Kentucky Fried Chicken basically says everything you need to know. International Business Machines was founded over 110 years ago. Most descriptive names are too long, so eventually, International Business Machines becomes IBM and Kentucky Fried Chicken is simply KFC. If you’re a new entity, it’s probably not a good idea to start off with an acronym. Mechanicsville Plumbing and Heating cannot simply call itself MPH. Arlington School Supply shouldn’t be an acronym for obvious reasons.

The best option for naming a new company is coming up with something clever and memorable. But if you can, keep it short and simple. Last fall, I looked through a directory of Volvo technicians to find a tune-up guy for my boat. After looking through 50 mechanics, I chose Oil In a Day’s Work. The owner, Aaron, was nice, professional, and courteous, so I hired him again on my trip back through Charleston this spring.

While in Nashville last weekend, I googled “Nashville Hot Chicken” and found a dozen spots in a three-mile radius. I chose a place called Party Fowl and I was delighted with the meal. Coming up with a clever or unique name for your business is a good start, but it doesn’t guarantee long-term success. You still have to deliver a good product at a good price with good service in order to earn a good reputation. However, a good brand name can give you a substantial edge over your competition. I would assume that Granddaddy’s Famous Hot Chicken also serves a perfectly fine spicy fried yardbird. After all, they’ve been in business for 25 years, but Party Fowl has quickly grown to five locations in five years and had a line out the door when we visited.

What’s in a name? A lot.