Consulting Business Names: How to Decide What Works Best

I know some of the readers here at Consulting Success have been looking for information on how to create a great consulting business name. Since one of my previous companies was an international branding and marketing firm that did quite a few naming projects I thought I’d weigh in on this and share my thoughts with you.

First you need to know that we can generally separate all names into four categories. Understanding what each category is all about will help you not only to come up with a more effective name for your consulting firm, it will also generate more ideas during the development process.

Let’s go through the three main naming categories, plus a fourth that I’ll save for last:

1. Descriptive names
As the name suggests these are names that ‘give away’ what business you’re in. For example Vista Print, Brand Solutions, US Airways, etc. These names can work well because you don’t need to spend time explaining what kind of company you are, it’s pretty clear. This also helps because anytime your logo is placed in the public’s eye it is in itself communicating what you do to people.

There is a downside though. Sometimes these names can be quite boring. They tend to fade into the backdrop and get blurred together with all the other similar names out there.

2. Invented names
In this group you’ll find names like Agilent, Google, Snapple. These names stand out and can stir up emotions within your target audience. Their uniqueness is key because you’re essentially ‘one of a kind’.

That being said, the problem with these names is that they don’t communicate any specific message, nor do they ‘say’ what you’re firm is all about. With these names it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll generally need to spend more money to ‘get your n name out there’ and have it remembered – do to its uniqueness.

Consultants Naming Guide

3. Experiential names
These names sit between #1 and #2 by offering a connection to an experience each one of us has generally had..

Think Explorer, Navigator, Telus, Linksys and so on. These names in the right context all make sense to us and they require little explanation.

This is likely the most popular route most established companies take. Which also makes it the downside – finding an appropriate name that stands out and won’t get mixed in with all the rest can be a challenge.

4. Evocative names
This is a bit of a funny category in that it’s more difficult to understand than all the others. What makes evocative names special is that they have an underlying positioning to them.

Naming companies often talk about evocative names like Virgin and Yahoo. Evocative names will only stand out if they are heavily supported through branding and marketing activities.

Think about it. Apple is considered to be in the evocative category, yet without all the marketing and communications going on for the brand it wouldn’t have become that way.

Yahoo worked hard to associate the name to the search engine and brand. Otherwise we’d all think of Yahoo as unintelligent and rowdy – the literal meaning of the word according to Dictionary.com.

I hope this brings some clarity to the issue and helps you to figure out how to decide your consulting firm’s name.

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  • Noel

    Very insightful post, Michael. This will definitely help me think about my new company's name. Thank you.

    • http://www.consulting-business.com Michael Zipursky

      Noel – you're welcome and glad to hear that helps.

  • http://www.frozenlemons.com company naming

    Steps must be taken to ensure that the new business name will increase the success of the business and that current customers are not confused by the change. Legal and tax issues must be taken care of before the new business name can be official.