A good friend recently had to call it quits and give up on a business that she’d been slaving over and pouring money into for years.
It wasn’t her lack of effort – but simply the… name she picked for the business that finally killed it.
Our friend Martha had family connections to Peru and wanted to start a business that imported silver jewelry from Peru. With her regular visits to Peru and an apartment in Lima, it seemed she was perfectly set up – then she picked a name for the business.
After a great deal of thought and consideration Martha and her partners came up with the name Tikanchay for the jewelry business, which in Quechua, the native language of the Incas, means to make beautiful.
What a great idea for a business that imported jewelry from Peru, right?
Actually, using a word from the Inca language was a terrible idea to name a business selling to Americans.
Because of the millions of women in the U.S. who might have been interested in buying their jewelry, as far as I know, not one spoke Quechua. Which means, they had no idea what the name meant.
Much less, unless you just read the word, unless you can copy it in print, trying to remember how to spell it is next to impossible.
Now, I’m not just going off on a rant. Let me share the facts with you.
Martha, worked for years to try and keyword optimize her site to generate online sales and after limited success finally sought out a sales representative who could wholesale her jewelry directly to stores.
At which point her sales representative made a best effort to market Tickanchay jewelry. But she struggled, too.
It turns out none of her retail clients could pronounce the name, or spell it either and finally, Martha’s sales representative returned to her and told her, “You’ve got to change the name of your company. I can’t sell for you under the Tickanchay name.”
Martha finally gave in, and renamed the company Bella Peru. Simple and straightforward. Easy to say, spell and understand.
Unfortunately, at this point the name change came too late. The initial partners had already parted ways and with all the years of time and money invested in the business, few wanted to jump in and start over.
What you name your business matters. It can destroy your small business branding efforts or help your grow your business. Here are a couple of guidelines.
- Pick a name that is easy to pronounce and to spell for your target market. E.g. if you sell in the U.S. don’t pick an obscure word in Swahili and or use some slang U.S. word if you sell in Saudi Arabia. You easily could end up not only confusing your buyers but even offending them.
- Pick a name that reflects how you want people to think of your brand. For example, if you want your target market to think of you as a high-tech solution provider, don’t use words like Shoppe or Old Tymes in your name.
- Don’t try and pick a new name for your company by surveying your employees. First of all, they’re invested in the existing name, and given most people’s resistance to change, no matter how great your ideas, most will want to keep the present name. Secondly, scientifically run focus groups have demonstrated dubious value as a market research tool. Unscientific surveys have even less utility.
Whether it’s the name you choose for your company, the headline you use to get people to stay on your website, or the copy you use in your email – it turns out that the words you use – matter.
Some work to attract buyers. Some don’t.
And it’s not just luck. There is a science – some call it an art – to getting the attention of your target market, to generating a lead and to converting them to buyers.
Find out the proven way to prosper, just by using the right words.
To your success,
P.S. Warning! Writing takes work. This isn’t like playing the lottery either.
The good news?
Better branding, better company names, better marketing messages and better copy pay off big for everyone who puts in the effort.