Starting your own business is, as Joe Biden would say, “is a big f*cking deal.” Most people don’t really understand just how much of an undertaking it is until they’ve actually done it. One of the things you have to do, other than write a business plan, gather capital, or form the LLC, is come up with a good name.
Think of your company as your baby…it is your creation and you’re entirely responsible for it. Deep down you will always love it but sometimes you’ll wonder what the hell you were thinking when you started it. And of course you want to give it a good name. Your business’ name will stay with you. You’ll have to say it to people, type, and write it thousands of times. Name it well.
Katrina brought a renewed focus on everything local in New Orleans (rightfully so) and how we choose to name our organizations is a big part of that. We’re all proud to live in and operate businesses in this city. But ironically, in a place that is often referred to as the most unique in the United States, you don’t have to go far to find ten businesses with variations of NOLA, dat, or -eaux in them.
One thing we really need to get away from is using “NOLA” in business names. A surprising amount of companies in New Orleans have decided to use the naming convention “NOLA [insert what you do here].” After searching the Secretary of State’s website and seeing the number of results is limited to 250 I called their office and was told there are at least 2500 businesses in Louisiana with the word NOLA in them. This number includes all organizations in Louisiana which may or may not be operating but you get the idea.
Why is this a bad thing?
- It’s unoriginal
- You’re not standing out from the crowd
- You’re not getting much love on the web with search engine optimization, Facebook, any listing service, etc.
- If you want to expand outside of New Orleans, and aren’t banking on New Orleans as a brand, you’re going to have to change it.
I get excited when I see business names that rock. You can tell that the founders of these companies sat down and thought hard about how to name them (or they’re just super clever). This is something everyone should do.
Local businesses that thought hard about their names
- Dreamie Weenies – gourmet hot dogs
- Demo Diva – general demolition
- Empanada Infatada – food truck
- Floor de Lis – flooring company
- Mopho – restaurant specializing in Pho
Several of these names play well into their brands. Dreamie Weenies makes fancy hot dogs and their mascot is a happy, dancing hot dog. Demo Diva is owned by a woman and their dumpsters, trucks, and even bulldozers are all pink. If your business name has NOLA in it just because you’re located here (and not because you sell NOLA themed products) how does that ultimately play into your brand?
Pointers for coming up with a good name
- Try to make it short and sweet. Two syllables is ideal although hard to stick to…Nike, Starbucks, Mopho, Jay-Z, Facebook, etc.
- Get feedback from friends and colleagues. If 9 out of 10 people like a name it’s probably a good one.
- When you say it to people they want to hear more about it after hearing only the name because it’s that awesome.
- Don’t misspell the name. If you can’t spell I don’t want your product. If you’re going to do that you might as well make up a word.
- While you do ideally want to have yourname.com it’s not a huge deal if it’s not available. Everyone uses Google anyway.
With Sidework I wanted to keep it short and relevant to our industry which is restaurants. When I say Sidework to restaurant managers it generally elicits a smile which is a great way to start out a conversation when trying to sell someone on your product.
For Whiskey Wagon (launching soon!) people get excited about the name and want to hear more, it rolls off the tongue, the .com was available, and it just works since we deliver booze to your door.
Coming up with a good name is tough but not crazy hard. My favorite method is getting some friends together, drinking some beers, and scribbling on a whiteboard. After an hour or two of brainstorming there should be some solid names on the board.