A major goal of any marketing endeavor is to “get your name out there.” Sometimes, however, companies make grave errors in the name that they have chosen to promote.
We’ve all seen companies named for their founder(s). Lehman Brothers. BlessingWhite. Any law firm you can think of. Naming a company after oneself may gratify the ego, but there are several crucial reasons why it may be incredibly short-sighted…
- The name, in an of itself, communicates nothing about the purpose of the firm. Do you really want potential clients to be guessing?
- The name may be awkward to pronounce or promote. Sure, you’re used to it – but you’re not the potential client.
- When the founder leaves or retires, it is often too late, from a marketing point of view, to go through a major branding change. As my 7-year old might say, “you’re stuck with it!”
- For the founder(s), control of a most crucial asset – his/her name – is lost if he/she moves on to another endeavor
I once worked for a company named Frank Barker & Associates. What does that name tell you? Well, the founder was Frank Barker, and he hired some associates. All market identity had to be grafted onto a name that carried no meaning, wasn’t sexy, and didn’t lend itself to sticky branding efforts. That’s self-defeating.
Right now, you could be doing your searches via “Brin and Page’s Internet Search Solutions”. Instead, you use one of the best-known brands on the planet: Google. Sergey and Larry had the forethought to create a brand name that could become bigger than their own names. And while we’re on the topic of bad naming conventions, certainly avoid meaningless acronyms (the bumble of a jumble) which cannot easily connect with the minds and hearts of customers.
Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and make the change to a more future-looking name, abandoning the initial name for something that can more easily accrue brand equity (here’s an example of one company that did just that). There may be times to name a company after its founder and retain that brand identity, IF the goal of the company is purposefully set out to be built around that individual. But if you’re looking to build something bigger than yourself, better to make a name for yourself by not naming if for yourself. Those who join you and follow after you will be grateful to have you in the corner office, and not emblazoned on the business card.