Victims of a Difficult Name




This delicious but unpronounceable dessert comes from northern Spain and is made with dried fruit soaked in spiced red wine and served with vanilla ice cream.
Click here for the recipe:

Prelude to a 911 Call

Every business faces the difficult question of what to call itself. A business name is the primary and initial point of connection with potential customers. So what happens if the name of a business is awkward, clumsy, even hazardous to pronounce? We must consider the remote but plausible medical possibility of a name that is so difficult to say out-loud that it can actually cause injury:

Victim of a Difficult Name:


Completely Innocent Bystander:

Oh No! He’s choking to death on that last long consonant! Somebody call 911!

Ten Useful Tips for Naming Your Business

(1) Boring is Bad

This is an obvious truth that requires little further elaboration. Delete the yawn. Distinguish yourself. Don’t be dime a dozen. Don’t call your business ABC Inc. Imagination is required and can be fun as well as fruitful.

(2) Weird is (usually) Bad, But Spice is Nice

Weirdness is defined relative to the culture and market within which your business operates. Major companies run afoul of this rule when they rush to expand into new foreign markets in countries they have no experience in. For example, door greeters at newly opened Wal-Mart stores in Germany offended many customers by saying “have a nice day.” Wal-Mart failed to understand the unique cultural characteristics of this market and it cost them:

It doesn’t matter what form your lack of understanding takes. Whether it’s how you do business, how you sell, what you sell, or what you call your business, beware and be aware of local practices, values and standards. Use them to advantage as well as to avoid disadvantage.

(3) Authenticity is good

Names derived from local, regional, or family characteristics cast your business as an ‘insider’, a company that fits in with the locals. The same concept applies when you use a business name that reflects who you are. Almost everyone knows L.L. Bean is a Maine family business that got started in Freeport, Maine. The name of this outstanding company derives from the man who started it, and imparts a sense of tradition and stability to the firm as the years go by.

(4) Unique, creative names are good because they distinguish you from competitors, but be careful not to stray into weird names.

Some people like jazz music, some do not. Uniqueness which evokes a sense of humor is likely to succeed while a jazzy name no one understands may fall flat. Naming your business is an art more than a science.

(5) Beware of names that are derived from sensible thinking which still give customers the wrong impression.

I really do feel sorry for the venerable law firm of Doo-wee, Cheatum & Howe [say it fast and stop laughing!]

I also feel sorry for the wonderful accounting firm founded by Mr. Botched and Mr. Bungled:
Botched and Bungled Accounting and Tax Service.

(6) Discard tradition when necessary

Mr. Crooked, a man of the highest integrity and honesty, should think twice about naming his financial service firm Crooked Investments. This is an uphill battle few would care to fight.

(7) Shorter is Better

Size does indeed matter when it comes to business names. Shorter names are easier to remember, pack a bigger punch, and will stand out compared to longer, more complex names. People like simplicity. If your name is easy to remember customers may feel you are easy and friendly to deal with. This is an asset. Longer, complex, abstract and difficult names are a potential liability.

According to the Primacy-Recency Theory ( people remember best what they hear first, and second best what they hear last. Thus, it’s a good idea to begin and conclude a business ad with the name of your company. The most recent information presented to an audience is more likely to be remembered. And if that name is short and sweet your potential customers are more likely to remember it.

(8) Adapt to the Medium

Internet, yellow pages, signs, word of mouth? What is the primary medium through which the existence of your business will be communicated? Learn the rules of this primary medium. Adapt, adjust and evolve as needed. In the old days AAAAAA Plumbing Service was assured of first placement in the Yellow Pages.

Today, ranking high on a Google search requires many, many things. What matters most today are the relationships your business (and its name) has with other internet users.
Depth and volume of connections help.

By the way, if your business does not appear in the first page of search results returned by Google, then for all practical purposes your business doesn’t exist on the internet. Placement (where you appear in search results) has become just as important as the name of your business. But this is a topic for another article in!

If you fail to consider these issues they will be decided for you – by your competitors.

(9) Avoid Fussy Distinctions

Two rival engineering firms fight to the death in a small city. Here are their names:

Anthony Robert Martin Trigona Engineering


Anthony Martin Robert Trigona Engineering

Whether these names are read or heard out-loud many, many people are going to perceive them to be the same name. You too might believe this. If you do, go back and look carefully at the two middle names. Fussiness and fine distinctions are bad when it comes to names.

Andrew Carnegie (properly pronounced Car-NEY-Gee) was one of the richest men of the 19th century and has a magnificent concert hall named after him in New York City. But guess what? Almost everyone calls it CAR-na-gee hall. That’s how the world works, like it or not. People like easy pronunciations and will impose simplifying changes as needed. Isn’t life difficult enough as it is?

(10) Signal Your Intentions
It may sound like violating the rule against boring names, but it’s actually a good idea for your name to tell customers what you do. Whether it’s law, surveying, engineering, medicine or any other line of work, it’s a really good idea for your business name to explain to people what you do. This connotes seriousness and dedication to the work you are in.

Let’s say you come up with a great name that satisfies all of the rules discussed above. Finish the job nicely and add your line of work to the end of your business name, immediately followed by the type of entity your business is, such as Inc., LLC, or P.C. You’ve done the best you can at this point. March forward without regrets and be proud of what you call yourself.

Advantages of Good Business Names

A well-chosen business name connects effectively with customers and potentiates a favorable impression of your firm. Good names get things off to a good start while a bad name may trip up success and ‘queer the deal.’ Good names will get your foot in the door so you can prove your real worth to the customer and get down to business. Once you have won over customers with demonstrated performance, names become less important in themselves but still matter because they accumulate goodwill.

Your business name is your team and helps customers and others keep score. You want to be proud of your business name because you may pass it on to the next generation. Your business name may become an icon and a landmark for your community. Your business name will attach to your values, who you are, what you believe in, what you accomplish in life, what you build and create from nothing. It will be the vessel filled with the achievements of your work. Choose wisely.

The Bottom Line

The truth about names is simple: make sure your potential customers are not victims of a difficult name. Pick a name that effectively and efficiently conveys to people who and what your business is. Use but don’t abuse the gifts of language, culture and circumstance. What happens after that is up to you.



George Adams
Certified Public Accountant Master of Business Administration
Tel: (207) 989-2700 E-Mail:
450 South Main Street: The HQ of IQ
Brewer, Maine 04412-2339

©2015 Copyright George Adams CPA MBA. All Rights Reserved.