On Naming

Although there are many of us who may not realize this, naming something is a great undertaking. When you name something, you imbue it with power. Many cultures believe that the name controls the direction of the spirit, and much thought is given before naming ceremonies. In some of these cultures, it is even forbidden to speak your own name, the theory being that giving away your own name is also giving away part of your spirit.

In our culture, the act of naming has taken on an interesting life. Babies are named, not after ancestors or very dear family friends, but after food, places, and celebrities. Musical groups are named with a double meaning in mind. Even businesses have fallen prey to this farcical approach toward naming. My favorite local example is the consignment store Oops! I’ll Sell it Again. While they may draw the teenagers with their fad name, they will certainly never draw my business. What happens when Ms. Spears goes out of favor? This business is stuck with a passe name, and a very costly change if they decide they need something more lasting.

There is a serious thought process that should be entered when naming anything, be it your child, your pet, or your business. It’s fine to want to break out of the mold and have something interesting. For example, up until very recently, my jewelry business was called Eleventh Midnight, which was based on an inside joke with a friend. I thought it was a great name for someone making and selling nontraditional jewelry designs. Apparently, the public thought differently. Not all unusual naming ventures go this poorly, but a great many of them fall out of fashion fairly quickly.

When naming something that you intend to keep for a long time, you should consider whether or not that name will be able to compete down the road. You wouldn’t want to subject a child to going through school with a name like Ima Hogg, nor would you want to subject your prospective customers ten years from now to a completely irrelevant name, like the aforementioned consignment store. Will Rockin’ Rolls continue to bring in the business ten years from now better than Bill’s Fine Furniture? Will Divine Inspirations draw a more desired crowd than Mystical Teas? These are all valid questions you should consider when naming your business.

In conclusion, choose a name that will last. Choose a name that is the most likely to draw the prospective client base you want. Don’t be afraid to be cute or humorous, just check it against the first criterion.

And if you’re curious, yes, I have given up Eleventh Midnight and hope in the next month or so to unveil my new DBA!

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