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Wyoming Business Tips for Feb. 3-9

January 28, 2008

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC) at the University of Wyoming

By Jill Kline, WSBDC Region V director, Gillette

"We're having a hard time agreeing on a name for our business; isn't there some sort of strategy we can use?" --Christina, Jackson

Varying opinions and strategies on how to select an appropriate name are available. Choosing a name should not be taken lightly. The right name is the first step in developing a business's brand. That is how customers see your business and what they will come to expect and value as far as your product or service is concerned.

The Web site alone has a vast list of resource articles outlining strategies to help name a business. Steve Nubie, author of an article titled "Why A Good Business Plan Can Help You Name Your Company," offered a concise approach that should help you get started.

Nubie suggests that a written business plan can be the blueprint for determining a name. A good plan clearly defines a product or service, customers, competition and your industry. The plan outlines goals and strategies to achieve those goals. A plan forms a framework for brand strategy and leads to critical issues to think about when determining a business name.

Nubie provides four considerations: First, visualize your customers. What do they look like? What are their ages, genders, lifestyles and locations? If you target a specific demographic or type of customer, your business name should be customer-driven. A good example of this is the high-end clothing store, La Petite Femme, which specializes in smaller women's sizes.

Next, think about what makes your company distinctive. What is your company's emphasis? This uniqueness or competitive edge describes the primary nature of your business. Identify the words that define the nature of your business and highlight those attributes in your name.

Third, understand your business category. Are you highly specialized or are you selling a commodity? For instance, Meals-on-Wheels, the catering company, has a specialized product and market but Melissa's Catering has a broader market yet it clearly identifies the business and adds an element covered in the next consideration.

Finally, are you or another individual essential to the company's day-to-day activities and functions? This is often the case for service businesses and best exemplified when you see a name or a list of last names for lawyers, doctors or insurance agents.

According Dave Batt, president of Everest Communications Inc. in Genea, Ill., "In time, the name will be less important than what you make of it through hard work, dedication and customer satisfaction. It's at that point that you'll know you have not only successfully named your company, but also given birth to a brand."

See other topic related articles on the Web site.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail or write 1000 East University, Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY 82071-3922. Additional help is available at the WSBDC Web page

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