Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What's in a Name?

What's the name of your business?

Microsoft is testing a new sales training program on Microsoft Solution Selling and I attended the first two days yesterday and today. The class is very good.

But I'm not writing about that. Stay tuned.

An interesting thing happened at the beginning of the class. The instructor asked everyone to give their names, their companies, and what they wanted out of the class. He tried to write these on the board.

But SMB Consulting is filled with unintelligable names. The room was not very large, but the instructor had to keep asking for clarifications and spellings. Is it tech or tek? -best or -vest? -bit or -bits or -bytz?

Out of twenty names on the board, three were clear and easy to understand the first time. Luckily for me, KP Enterprises was one of them.

Another classmate and I noted what a spectacle this was. The room was full of people who couldn't easily communicate their company name -- to someone who works with technologists all the time.

Now it's possible that Northern California has just way too many unintelligable company names. But I doubt we're that far off the norm.

So what's with computer consulting names? If we want to be professionals, we need to be aware of the kinds of companies that have respect among our clients. Perhaps not as formal as lawfirms. But certainly not so playful as to be childish.

Can you imagine lawyers with names like Legal Dudes? Or accountants named Moolah Wizards?

Way too many consultants have names that are made from a random selection of two or three of the following:

chron / kron
commu / commo
log / logy / logic
sys / sis
Tech / tek
-tech as in normalword-tech: (e.g., tabletech, fireTech, WindTech)

Plus we see a lot of cutesy or smart-ass names, such as Guys, geeks, and gurus. Can you imagine going to Dental Gurus?

If you're just forming a business, or reformulating your business, try to pick a name that sounds business-like. Ideally, your business name should state what you do. Computers, mobile, networks, and business consulting are fine. Partner names are great (e.g., Johnson and Andrews), as are local landmarks (tower, lake, Sierra, valley, etc.).

Here are some more good names:
_____ Associates
_____ and Co.
_____ Professionals
_____ Resources
_____ Technical Resources

If you already have a business name . . .

well, I don't know.

It may be worth doing some very difficult and very honest research. Is your name costing you business? If so, it's costing you money and has to go.

If you resist because your ego gets in the way, then you have to decide how much your ego is worth. One of the guys in my SBS user group has changed his business name three times in the last twenty years. Note that he's still in business after twenty years! He never lost a client because he changed the business name.

I have high hopes that our field will become more professional over time. Perhaps a byproduct of that will be the gradual dissappearance of gurus, geeks, and cyber-goobers.

Just my opinion.


  1. Anonymous10:41 PM

    Working for one of those "cutsy, smart-ass" company names, i must agree with you. Although "Geeks On Call" is memoriable but often confused with "Geek Squad", it is cheesy. I am not fond of the name. Never have been. And what's worse, the marketing (commercials and radio) advertisments are just as cheesy. But I have heard over the past 2-3 years from SMB technical consultants and well known SBSers that companies like Geeks On Call and Geek Squad are "losers, idiots, embarrassments, etc...) "You do not want to be one of these guys..." I have not understood this concept. Are the assumptions because of the name of the company. So in sticking with the transitive theory, I am a loser, idiot and embarrassment based on my company's name and not my qualifications and accomplishments? Interesting...

  2. Anonymous2:51 AM

    Excellent post Karl & I couldn't agree more. Your name, business cards, clothes, car - everything that the customer sees & interacts with - should tell a story about who you & what you do. Its fine to be personable & approachable, but at all times, you want to be professional.

    I like it.


  3. Anonymous7:16 AM

    As an SMB consultant about to break out on his own, your article was very timely. I have registered countless domain names in trying to settle on a company name...it's difficult trying to come up with a name that is both professional and "catchy" or attention getting.




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