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Five ways to name your independent or home business

Your choice of a company name is the single most important marketing decision you'll make and the one with the lowest cost. It can be an awesome sales tool, projecting a positive image or be a source of much confusion. Here are five choices (with a few pros and cons) when naming a business:

Just Your Name-"PJ, Inc."
Pro: This is useful when you are the business, as in a freelance writing service or when your reputation makes you a major asset because you're well known in your field.
Con: This doesn't tell who you are, what you do or what your business has.

Your Name and What the Company Does-"PJ's Writing"
Pro: Often used by professionals, this choice lets people know who you are and what you do.
Con: It's not specific enough about how you're unique (from all the rest) or allow you to expand into other areas.

Description of the Company’s Main Benefit-”Dirt Cheap Articles
Pro: Your business name is now a powerful ad, selling the key focus or benefit. It's easy to remember and the eye will be drawn to it.
Con: It can limit expansion options. And now you've got to live up to your name!

Description of the Company's Main Function-"Subpoenas For Lawyers"
Pro: This allows you to convey more specifically what your company does in a way that will set you apart from all the others in your field, or make your business one-of-a-kind. It has a billboard effect.
Con: This can limit expansion into other areas.

A Made Up Name-"Productivity" or "WCP Group"
Pro: This comes in handy when the company's used as an "umbrella", in a sense, for several different functions, services or product lines.
Con: Doesn't tell who you are or what you do.

Did You Know That…..

90 percent of businesses choose names that sound the same as their competitors (!). Sometimes this can be a disadvantage, making your product (or service) hard to distinguish from another one

. But sometimes it can be a good thing; for example (or case in point): Those inexpensive cereals that come in the plastic, see-through bags, available in nearly every major grocery store. Many, if not most of the names are similar to the familiar, now high-priced brands ( all cereal used to be inexpensive, but anyway…..). This is a great help, because you know you’re getting something that will taste like or be similar to the ‘name’ brand. And in most cases, you’re getting the same taste (or something that’s similar). And sometimes in the store-label beauty supplies will have similar names, to let you know that the particular product will perform the same function (or work just as well), but at a much more affordable price.

According to a study published in the Journal of Marketing, brand names with a repetitive sounds or syllables (like Krispy Kreme or Coca-Cola) create a positive perception.

Public companies with easy-to-pronounce ticker symbols outperform those with hard-to-pronounce ones on the New York Stock Exchange.

Final Thoughts
When creating a business name, you may also want to generate a list of words that describer what you want your business to reflect or convey. Now work on putting those words together (consider something clever or catchy that will also convey effectively what you do). Pick the best names, and ask a few current or potential clients their opinions. Your final choice should: Be easy to remember, stand out, easily tell what you do, the name shouldn't be too long or too short and should be easy to spell and pronounce.

Sources: “Getting Business to Come to You” by Paul and Sarah Edwards and Laura Clampitt Douglas, ”What’s in a name?” by Jodi Helmer-Entrepreneur magazine, Jan. 2014 and my own recollections