What’s in a name?

I meet a lot of new people at business networking events and social gatherings. People sometimes ask me if I know someone who can provide a particular service. Often, I can think of a suitable person but cannot recall their business name. On other occasions, I remember the name of the business but not the person.

Why does this matter?

In the early stages of a business or professional practice, getting clients is crucial. Advertising is expensive, and most start-ups do not have the funds to invest in advertising collateral and campaigns.

The name you give your business or practice is important. In most cases, it is the name of the business owner that clients, prospective clients and referrers remember. You can spend a lot of money building a brand name that ends up being worthless.

If you use a generic word in your business name, there may be many other businesses that use the same word as you. This can be a problem, even if these other businesses are not in your industry. An example of this is the word “freedom”. Although there is a large furniture company that goes by that name, other types of businesses appear in a Google search when you type in the word “freedom”.

When you have a business name, it is more difficult to differentiate yourself from your competitors without spending a lot of money on advertising. If you plan to employ many revenue-generating members of staff, there may be a case for a business name, but that can always be done when the time is right.

Furthermore, people are more prepared to forgive errors made by “people” rather than errors made by companies.

If you want to start a personal or professional service, test the market cheaply and effectively by using your own name in the early stages. If what you offer takes off, then look at branding and marketing, and get the appropriate advice from a marketing consultant.

Jane Anderson, one of Australia’s foremost experts in personal branding, says that building trust is critical to creating a successful brand. The three key areas of trust are authenticity, empathy and credibility. These are much easier to establish in your interactions with others as a person rather than as a business name. In her book Trusted, Jane quotes Zig Ziglar:

“If people like you, they listen to you, but if they trust you, they do business with you.”

So, think carefully about the name you use and what it may or may not achieve for your business.

If you need help establishing your name and the direction of your business, email me at bryan@bryanworn.com.

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