The Game of the Name

Originally published as an editorial for the December 2008 Morgan County Business Leader

I earned my business name honestly.

Several years ago, working as a retail copywriter, I was unavoidably detained just prior to a production meeting between the advertising staff and product buyers. The production manager knew my situation, and nonchalantly announced, “We’ll start as soon as Bob gets here.” Over the next couple minutes (so I’m told), the poor buyer grew noticeably more agitated.

A certain manager within the company had earned a reputation for abrasiveness, particular toward presenters if he didn’t like what he heard. And sadly, this person and I shared the same first name, and the poor buyer misunderstood which “Bob” was coming to the meeting. So when I finally arrived (within five minutes), the buyer covered her face in her hands, exclaiming. “oh, that Bob.”

The production manager decided I needed a nickname so this wouldn’t happen again. Before the meeting ended, I was christened “Copybob.” In less than a day, the nickname traveled like lightning and stuck like superglue. Within a day and for over a year in the office, I never heard my name without the word “copy” preceding it.

The name has since traveled with me to many projects and environments. People use the name with affection and respect, particularly in bullpen-styled environments. Years later, determining my freelance business name proved the biggest no-brainer of all my decisions.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be handed a versatile business name for instant application. Something so vital to your identity should be chosen with great care and consideration, keeping several factors in mind.

  • Be memorable. You want prospective clients to recall you easily.
  • Keep it simple.
  • When possible, tie your name to your profession. I write copy and my name is Bob. It’s not always that easy, but don’t make it any more difficult than it should be. Which brings me to…
  • Don’t be too clever. Complicated acronyms, plays on words, jokes that require leaps in logic–are probably not the best choices.
  • Don’t be derivative. It’s never good to bring your competition to your customer’s mind, so why help them along? Every time I see an Idiot’s Guide, I end up buying another Dummies book.
  • Check the marketability. Is the url http://www.[yourname].com available? (I was truly lucky there). Can a variation of 1-800-yur-name play a part?

Be cautious about alpha phone numbers. Personally, I like an easy-to-remember alpha phone number. Someday, I need to look into 800-copy-bob. But if it’s not available, I probably won’t check out 800-wrt-stuph. Cute wordplay goes against the very reason for having such a number–to be more memorable.

Your business name weighs in heavily in the formation of your brand, your identity, and the impression of your business. Don’t drag around a poorly constructed, overly clever name that ultimately works against you.

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About R.J. Sullivan

R.J. Sullivan’s latest book, Commanding the Red Lotus, is a novel-length collection of three space opera tales in the tradition of Andre Norton and Gene Roddenberry. His novel Haunting Blue is an edgy paranormal thriller and the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. Seventh Star Press also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second part of Fiona’s tale. R.J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. R.J. co-hosts the Two Towers Talk Show YouTube program with John F. Allen. He resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it.
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One Response to The Game of the Name

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