Choosing the right business name (Article)

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This free article explores the implications of names for and in organisations and businesses.

Derek Stockley is a training and performance management consultant based in Melbourne, Australia. He conducts in-house and public training courses.(Google+).

Sometimes the ideas for this newsletter come from a single event or observation. Sometimes a variety of different indicators put the focus on a particular issue. Recently the importance of names in the business context has been raised in a number of ways.

Position titles

The initial prompt was an article published in a Wharton email newsletter. The article was titled Chief Receptionist Officer? Title Inflation Hits the C-Suite*. The article went on to explain the growth in job titles that included 'Chief'. Tongue in cheek, it probed the question: would Chief Receptionist Officer become as prevalent as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, etc? The article highlighted flatter organisation structures and the difference a job title can make. A job title which sounds more important can be a reward mechanism.

Product/service names

Shortly after reading the Wharton article, I received an email from a person registered on one of my public Train the Trainer courses. It was a fairly simple question:

"I have a question in regard to the title 'Train the Trainer' - is it true that this term is 'out of date' and what we've known as TTT is now being named something else?"

In preparing the reply, the more I thought about it, the more complex my reply became as I realised the different angles and issues involved. Essentially my answer was that it was still the most appropriate name as it accurately reflects what the course actually does.

Unique business names and branding

The third name that gained my attention was a company who called themselves the Dancing Elephants Achievement Group. As they explain here, the company wanted a name that grabbed your attention - they certainly achieved that.

Fourthly, I was surprised recently by a participant who asked me: "Which Derek Stockley?"

It was at the end of a training day where I had asked participants to provide evaluations in a narrative way. One of the comments asked for was about 'feedback on Derek Stockley'. When I queried the participant on what he meant, he replied:

"Do you mean Derek Stockley the trainer, Derek Stockley as a brand or the Derek Stockley website/organisation?"

By querying the brand, the question provided good feedback. It was pleasing to have my name associated with the brand concept. After all, some companies spend millions of dollars to establish and maintain a brand image.

The business naming issues I wrote about originally (see What is in a business name?) still exist. Choosing the right name for a business is most important for branding purposes, but it can be difficult over the longer term. As the article explains, my business has changed direction and new terms like learning have been introduced. Think today of multi-media companies - any company name with "video" is now associated with 'old' technology.

Derek Stockley is a relatively unique name (Google only identifies four of in over six billion people).

Some would argue that you need a distinct and interesting name that commands attention. Seth Godin invented the concept of the 'purple cow' in his book of the same name. As he explains it, your product/service or brand needs to stand out. It needs to be different. It needs to gain attention.


Decisions you make about the naming of positions, products and organisations have an impact. The title given to a position can make a big difference to how it is perceived. Organisations can be named after an individual. Otherwise, a name which represents the product/features/benefits in a memorable way is good, remembering that the organisation's role and function may change over the years.


* Chief Receptionist Officer? Title Inflation Hits the C-Suite. (NOTE: free membership registration required to view this [email protected] article, published by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania on May 30, 2007).

Past favourite

The importance of internal branding to support exceptional customer service is growing - identifies the growing importance of internal branding. The relationship to successful change programs promoting a positive culture and climate for organisations is also explained.

Related information

To review the newsletter, see: Listing of recent newsletter articles. All articles relate to a performance theme, but individual newsletters cover a specific topic. Themes include customer service, leadership, management, website marketing and time management. You can see all articles in chronological order at: Listing of newsletter articles in chronological order.

You can publish this article, see: Publication.

Derek Stockley conducts in-house customer service training and consulting, see customer service training and consulting.

Derek Stockley conducts public training courses in both Melbourne and Sydney, Australia.

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