Choosing the Best Name for Your Consulting Business

What’s in a name? Pretty much everything when you consider it’s the first point of contact buyers will have with your consulting business.

Strike the right chord and your name can make a big difference in propelling your business toward success. Get off on the wrong foot, though, and your business name could quickly become meaningless and forgettable.

Clearly, the name you choose carries a lot of weight. So where do you begin? To help you, here are some naming strategies to keep in mind.

#1. Using Your Name is Perfectly OK

It’s totally fine to go the easy route with something like Scheely Consulting, Crook & Co., etc. A lot of people get hung up on the fact that this approach doesn’t make it entirely clear what their focus is or, that it’s taking the easy way out.

There’s nothing lazy about using your name and, there’s an easy workaround for the clarity argument – use a tag line.

Tag lines are best used when they add absolute clarity to what you value you deliver. If you were a change management pro, just add it under your logo or wordmark like so:

ScheelyLogo

If your last name is complicated to spell or pronounce, think carefully before using it. If your name is known in your industry, then it has a defined value and may be the best approach.

Remember: Nothing’s ever set in stone and you can always change it later. Better that you have to make a change to spice things up than to make it understandable.

#2. Focus on Your Core Strength or Market Niche.

What are your core strengths as a consultant? Are you an incredibly agile thinker? Are you pioneering, clever or speedy?

Whatever they are, use them as a source of inspiration when you’re brainstorming names for your company. Blend them with your market niche as a source of inspiration when naming your business (where do you think The Clever Consultant came from?)

Quick Tip: Speed up your branding with Sally Hogshead’s Personal Brand Playbook.  You’ll get a laser-focused strategy for crafting and communicating your brand through tag lines, social media profiles and marketing copy.

Also, check out her book, How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination.

I read her books and used her products – she’s the real deal.  They’ll save you a ton of time finding the right words to describe yourself.

#3. Keep it Simple.

The strongest names are simple.

Don’t choose some obscure, hard-to-pronounce word for your name in an effort to be unique. You’ll discourage word-of-mouth if your name is too complicated, plus it will be difficult for buyers to find you via the web.

Whatever you choose, it should roll off the tongue. Otherwise, you’re going to spend precious moments in sales meetings awkwardly spelling out your practice’s name instead of talking about how you can help your clients.

#4. Avoid the Acronym.

Acronyms are boring, vague, and forgettable. Certainly, there are companies that have used acronyms successfully (think UPS), but unless you’ve got millions of dollars to put behind your branding and marketing efforts, avoid them.

As advertising legend David Ogilvy wrote in On Advertising:

“Whatever you do, for goodness sake, don’t change the name of your corporation to initials. Everybody knows what IBM, ITT, CBS and NBC are, but how many of the following can you identify: AC, ADP, AFIA, AIG, AM, AMP, BBC (Brown Boveri and British Broadcasting), CBI, CF, CNA, CPT, CEX, DHL, FMC, GA, GE, GM, GMAC, GMC, GTE, HCA, IM, INA, IU, JVC, MCI, NIB, NCP, NCR, NDS, NEC, NLT, NT, OPIC (not to be confused with OPECT), TIE, TRW, USBS. Yet this is how 37 corporations sign their advertisements. It take them many years and many millions of dollars to teach their initials to their publics. What a waste of money.”

#5. Test Out Your Short List.

Once you come up with a short list of names, poll them on a few people in your market or potential clients to gauge their reactions and get their thoughts.

Also, if you have clients overseas, be sure to take that into account. Every country and culture interprets names in a different way, so you’ll want to tread carefully, particularly if you’re using a made-up name or metaphor.

#6. Check the “.com.”

It’s important that your company name and Internet domain match. So before committing to a name, do some research to see if the corresponding website address is available. Besides the .com suffix, be sure to purchase the .net and .info suffixes, as well.

Your name is one of the most important business decisions you will make. The one you do settle on speaks volumes about who you are and what you do. So while naming your business might sound like the easiest part of launching a consulting practice, don’t sell yourself short by not investing enough time and effort into the process.

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