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It's all in a Name

As the adage goes, first impressions are everything. Something that every new entrepreneur should consider is what name they give their enterprise, because that in itself could determine what response you get to the great work that lies ahead. As a communications expert, I get to enjoy the inside scoop of what individuals and corporates envision for their organisation well before they share this with their consumers. From campaign planning to running competitions across social media platforms, we oftentimes have to sit in the green room to think up taglines, campaign names and other such fitting plays on words that not only showcase what a company does, but also invites the customer into becoming for a time – a part of the company’s narrative.

Business names carry tremendous power, alerting customers and audiences to what the company does, its vision and mission. They can invoke emotion, attract or repel customers, challenge social understanding or incite cultural awareness. Names can influence, inform, educate or reinforce values. Names can trigger engagement, compel audiences to ask questions about the brand represented and so much more.

As a start-up or aspiring entrepreneur, it is critical that you value the naming process, as it inadvertently sets the tone for your company ethos and corporate values. If you are looking for your customers to embody your brand, to be moved by what you do, or buy what you are selling, you need to play close attention to not only your name or identity, but as an extension of this, your overall presentation and the messages you can then share as a result of your communications strategy.

On this post, I thought to go into a few quick pointers of what one should consider before naming their newly formed business, their socially responsible initiative, or any such activity that requires creation of a complete identity.

1. Your name is the first thing your customers see. I started this piece by talking about first impressions. Similarly, when it comes to business, your company’s name should aim to either help customers remember you, alert customers to what you do, convey the right message about who you are and your vision and off course, peak the prospective customer’s interest. You should also remember that should your business grow, you want its name to go beyond borders.

There are countless names of brands that were a win in the markets they were birthed in, and a total sham elsewhere, e.g. Nokia’s smartphone ‘Lumia’, being a term that means prostitute in Spanish, and that spicy Ghanaian condiment ‘Shito’ may not entice lovers of spicy food elsewhere.

2. Your name is your unique stamp in your marketplace and industry. With start-ups on the rise and the average individual looking to one day start something of their own, apart from the hard work that will go into making your product or service a success, your name is that thing that speaks before you do. In line with point 1., your name is more than your identity, it’s a huge part of how your mission will evolve through hopefully, a carefully crafted vision.

3. Your name helps people, and your growing list of stakeholders, remember who you are. Because a good number of businesses are on these streets offering similar products, your name is right up there with your business strategy. Entities such as banks want people to trust them with their money, so are likely to use more prudent and conservative names while a yoga clothing line can imply relaxation or energy. It’s unlikely that you will find a pair of stretch pants dubbed “Compliant apparel” or a bank called “Flypast Banking”. Ladies and gentlemen, do not discount the hidden messages sent out by the name you give your start-up. It will set the tone for everything else.

The above applies when it comes to your logo and overall corporate presentation. The colours, images and fonts use communicate multiple hidden cues which can attract or repel customers. The enjoyable thing about developing your own brand is that you get to think about what you really want to say to your customers and stakeholders, all of which are tied to your mission, vision, services, product line-up, packaging and so on.

About the Author

Yvonne Mtengwa is the founder of Narratives Inc. a boutique PR and communications agency which creates bespoke marketing and communications strategies for leisure, travel and lifestyle brands.

We believe good ideas become great when your voice meets your audience, and your concepts morph into compelling stories and unforgettable experiences.

At Narratives Inc., we take a personalised approach to helping our clients articulate themselves, their brand architecture and product offering. Every client deserves our undivided attention and we help you sift through your thoughts to create tactical and innovative content-driven campaigns that raise your profile.

To learn more visit our website at

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