A few months back, my wife was sitting with me in the family room, focused on her boss's necklace she was repairing, while I was watching the end of a Rays baseball game. The Rays were mounting one of their famous comebacks, causing the Royals to go to the bullpen and bring in a new pitcher. I cracked up as they flashed his name on the screen: "Roman Colon" - because I initially read it as Roamin' Coalin'. I repeated it out loud to my wife (a dietitian), who envisions a colon wandering around a pasture and makes a comment that she thinks I only watch sports for the names I find fascinating.
That's true. I love a good name. And in all fairness to Roman Colón, his last name is Spanish and correctly pronounced like cologne.
Annoying my wife with another fact, I brought up that Christopher Columbus' last name was also Colón in Spanish - something I recalled from middle school Spanish class. She challenged me on that one, so not backing down when you're always right, I looked him up on Wikipedia - and opened a can of worms.
I didn't know that he was actually a Genoese, born as Cristoffa Corombo in Genoa, Liguria (now a part of Spain). We get Christopher Columbus from the Latin version, which was Cristopherus Columbus. His voyages were entirely funded by Queen Isabella of Spain, so technically he was considered Spanish, and they called him Cristobal Colón.
So what's important here? I'm always right. No, what really matters to us is that we know him as Columbus, and ever since we were in first grade the name Columbus (or whatever you call him) is associated with the man that discovered America.
A name that is unique, the first, ORIGINAL, separates you from everyone else.
The name itself should tell you WHO -- not WHAT it does. And, most importantly
it's the STORY behind the name that makes it memorable. Without the legend his name wouldn't matter to us at all.
It's true with brand names too.
Want Proof? Google. Piggly Wiggly. Orville Redenbacher. Most people rely on Google to search for anything. It's so popular, that the name Google has become a verb that means search. Piggly Wiggly was America's first true self-service grocery store and has had a loyal following for almost a century. Orville Redenbacher (his real name) was an agronomist that developed a special hybrid of corn that popped fluffier and lighter than other popcorns. It's the only popcorn I will buy. I don't even know what it costs. It's just that much better.
Be honest. Would you have chosen any of these names for your business or product? Not me. Could you even have thought of a name like these? I can't take credit.
Why do they work? No, it's not because goofy names work better.
First, the names are unique. They stand out and stand alone. They don't sound like anything else. They are claiming 'original' by going purposely where no one else would. Once the brand becomes a success, no one else can be them - they can only be compared to them. To give your brand its own identity, at least one word or combination needs to be a unique identifier - making your name exclusive in your market.
Second, the names don't tell us what they do. A brand tells us who, not what. What is the job of your product or service - and the story you tell about it. Naming your web design business Internet Solutions won't help anyone find you or remember you. Everybody uses those words.
Third, the story behind the name makes it matter to us. All of them have a legend that grew out of market-changing innovations, which gave birth to their reputations as the thought leaders in their categories.
How about some Natural Products examples?
There's plenty. Here's a few:
Kiss My Face. A bit of a quirky name in its own right. Definitely unique. It doesn't say what it does, and it's very clever for a line of natural body care products. The brainchild of two long-time vegetarians, their story is too long to include here, but you can read it in their own words: The Kiss My Face Story .
Newman's Own. I admit Paul Newman had an unfair advantage with instant name (and face) recognition for his brand. But still, the name is unique, it doesn't say what he does, and the story definitely matters to us all. Who knew the products would be so good? And, since the beginning, every dollar of profit (265 million of them to date) goes to very worthwhile charities. How can you be more guilt-free eating a bag of chocolate chip cookies, than knowing that it has the finest organic ingredients available and every bite is a donation to charity?
Seventh Generation. The name comes from the Great Law of the Iroquois - "In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." A company that fits all the criteria for a good name, it goes much farther by living up to its lofty promise in developing a model and new standard for corporate responsibility, even hosting a Summit on Creating a Game Plan for the Transition to a Sustainable U.S. Economy. Want inspiration? Spend 20 minutes on their website: Seventh Generation
So how do you choose a good business name?
Make it unique. Be different and be first. Being first allows you to be the original.
Don't say what you do with your name. Your competitors do the same thing.
And most important . . .
Make it matter. A truly great product or service from a responsible company will have people talking about you for a long time to come.