As we’re now in the thick of the holidays and it’s getting colder and colder, my wife recently made a list of things for me to do around the house before winter really sets in, including cleaning the mildew off the deck. As I am not oSteve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngne to procrastinate on such things and am always 100% happy to oblige, I (eventually) trundled off to our local hardware store to find the right product to help me accomplish my important new goal.


I saw many products that promised to do the job, and I am sure that all of them would have worked well to some degree or another. But which one did I choose? It was something called 30 Second Outdoor Cleaner. Now, did I really expect that this stuff would clean my deck in a mere 30 seconds? No, of course not, but I did expect that it would be quick, easy and effective. It was.


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Why did I pick that product over all the other ones? It was the name that made all the difference.


That is the power of naming your business or product well: It has the potential to win customers over instantly.


So just how do you pick a business name? You basically have three options:


  • You can pick a basic name;
  • You can pick an odd name; or
  • You can pick a name with benefits.


Of the three, I like Dec 18.pngthe last one best, and I will explain why in a moment. But let’s look at the first two options before that:


1. The basic business name: Plenty of businesses go this route: “Smith & Sons” or “Diamond Dry Cleaners.” These are fine, if ordinary, names. But in my mind, the problem with choosing a basic business name is that it’s a lost opportunity. Indeed, when you own a small business, creating an image in the mind of the customer is no easy feat. And given that getting noticed above the din is tough, if your business name is not different, unique, or remarkable, it is unlikely to be remembered. 


2. The strange name: Think Xerox, or These names are great because they are in fact so unique that they become memorable. The risk here is that while your odd business name may be memorable, too, if you can't afford to get people to remember it, it may just be odd. One reason we know of Amazon and Xerox is because those companies had the wherewithal to get us to remember their names. If you do not have a sizable marketing budget, picking an obscure name can be more of a curse than a blessing.


That is why the third option is often the best for small businesses:


3. The name with benefits: Here, what you do is think about the brand you want to create before you even name the business. What are the benefits your business offers that you want to emphasize, that you want to build your brand around? Once you know that, the next step is to come up with a few adjectives that exemplify those benefits and try adding them to the business name.


About Steve Strauss


Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here.

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