What makes a great company name?
As much I am writing this today, this topic has been percolating for a long time. I am looking at this question from the perspective of building a company that can become bigger than the owner and that it could be sold at some point if desired.
Great components of a company name:
- Memorable, and it
- Has a story behind the name
What makes a name less than great?
- A numbered company
- A name clearly ties to one person. ie. Jim’s electrical.
- Random initials
Personally, I am drawn to marketing and real estate related businesses. I have looked at various names that would fit either category and some that would incorporate both.
1) Johnston Strategic Management – I could use JSM but that doesn’t have much of a ring to it. I realise that there are many companies like IBM that make this work, but, I am a long way from that right now.
2) Johnston Group – encapsulated a long-term goal of having multiple companies and assets under one umbrella, but that company name already exists and fails my second point above.
3) Farmers Marketing – Now focusing on just marketing, I think this is where the rubber meets the road. One day, while I was at our local farmers market, the idea for Farmers MARKETing was born. I do see having a personality to the business. Watch for a future post about creating a logo.
I also see featuring the word ‘Farmers’ more than ‘Marketing’ in the future. For example, I see the day where a customer would say to a co-worker “So, who should we work with?” and they reply “Let’s go with Farmers.”
Farmers Marketing has one major factor that I like about a company name: There are numerous angles in which to tell stories stemming from the name.
My first 20 years of my career were in sales and business development. Those two decades shaped my perspective in a way where I always look at marketing opportunities through the eyes of a customer. This has served me well as many marketers focus on what they are trying to sell not what needs a prospect may have.
Looking through a customer’s eyes, I wanted to choose a name that could tell a story and encourage customers to do what is right and take a long-term perspective. Very early in my career, I was introduced to the motivational speaker Jim Rohn. He spoke many times about the story of the sower of seeds.
The life of a farmer cycles through the year, based on the seasons that dictate when he plants his crops, tends them and harvests them. In The Seasons of Life, motivational speaker and author Jim Rohn uses examples from the farmer’s life to explain that we are in control of the direction our lives take. Spring is the time to enter the “fertile elds of life” with determination, knowledge and commitment, the time to plant or create things of value. During the summer, we need to protect growing things. Fall is a time to rejoice in what has grown during summer or to regret that which should have been accomplished. And winter is the time for gratitude and rest, as well as regrouping for the future. Throughout the seasons, Rohn stresses that we reap what we sow, for better or for worse, and that adversity makes us stronger. (Jim Rohn)
Building on Jim Rohn’s metaphor, here are some additional areas where the Farmers concept applies to business:
1) There are 4 seasons: You sow seeds in Spring, nurture in Summer, harvest in Autumn and reap your rewards in winter. This relates to marketing since we need to build strategy, nurture our prospects and convert them to customers, all before we can receive a return on our investment.
2) Farmers take a long-term view: There are many short-cuts that can increase the yield in the short-term but damage the opportunity for future crops. Farmers must look a what is the best strategy for their business for the long-term.
3) Farmers are strategic: What crops are in the greatest demand? What offers the greatest profits? What grows best in the land we control? What crops do we have the most experience with?
4) Farmers need to respect their livestock: I have heard that if pigs are handled roughly, they bruise very easily and their health deteriorates dramatically. Marketing is just a tool and it can be used for good or evil. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. We must market with care and respect.
But wait, do you only offer marketing services for farmers?
So let’s address the elephant in the room. There are some obvious potential drawbacks to the name ‘Farmers Marketing’. First of all, without the proper context, the company could be seen as only servicing farmers. Secondly, Farmers Marketing does quite roll off the tongue as well as Farmers Market.
During some initial testing in the logo development stage, I received some great insight from some fellow marketers, whom I have a lot of respect for. The reaction wasn’t as positive as I had hoped. While their points were valid and quite insightful, I had a vision in mind and moved forward. This is something that happens in life and business all the time, doesn’t it? Entrepreneurs should seek feedback from others, but at the end of the day, we are passionate about an idea and we drive hard to bring it to life. I remember reading a real-estate book many years ago. One of the authors tips was to think like a high-school dropout. Meaning that if he were more educated he would have known that the things he was doing shouldn’t have worked. The problem was that they did.
Sometimes we over think things and sometimes we don’t put enough thought it. Finding the optimal middle ground is where the art and science of business converge.
So, putting those initial opinions aside, the initial reaction to the name and brand have been positive. And like many things, time will tell how well the brand resonates with people.