What’s in a Business’s Name? Choosing Between Factual and Memorable

rsz_1file3861261307855I’m a Gemini, and mostly comfortable with my split personality. But when it came time to name my business, I struggled: Sustainable Communication Strategies or LeapingOtter? (Yes, I own both URLs!) The quandary: should I pick something clear and serious, or easy to remember and light hearted?

LeapingOtter rings joyful, touches upon nature without beating you over the head with it, and has a hint of whimsy. Sustainable Communication Strategies is exactly what I do: integrated communication campaigns that are financially, environmentally and personally sustainable, customized to each client’s needs. SCS is a clunky mouthful, not easy to remember; LeapingOtter may be a bit twee. What to do?

Name choices that seem descriptive and clear can unwittingly erect barriers once publicized. We see this often in classical music organizations, where fancy names, often Latinate mouthfuls, fairly shout to the uninitiated: NO! this is not for you!  Environmental organizations run into similar problems when trying to use the word ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ — what seemed so nifty around the conference table is a mystery to the outsider. “Green? You mean like money, or lawn care?”

Often in business naming, fantasy can win out over factual.  Many companies have whimsical names that are memorable but don’t really describe what they do. From Akamai to Zappo’s — what were they thinking?

There are a couple of reasons for going with a less down-to-earth name: it gives you the freedom to expand your mission and how you talk about your work, and it allows the listener to identify with the business on his/her own terms.

So, for now, LeapingOtter it is.  Here’s to taking the leap.

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