How to name your business

10 Jul, 2020 - 00:07 0 Views

eBusiness Weekly

Joseline Sithole

In 2019, I observed a gap within the Small Medium Enterprise (SME) advertising space. I then decided to form a company that concentrates on advertising research with focus towards SMEs. I gave my agent four names hoping that the first one would sail through. You have guessed right it’s the last name that “passed the test”. To cut a long story short, here is what my daughter had to say about the whole “fiasco” which she called a “tragedy of the highest order.’ In her own words “Mom what were you thinking.”

Dear reader I am the proud owner of a company named Gooseberry Advertising Research. My inspiration coming of course from that cellphone company, “Blackberry” which took the world by storm. I thought changing the types of “berries” will endear me to my clients. After this fiasco I then conducted a name testing survey (Something I should have done before submitting the names.) Many responded to the name as “interesting”. My niece had this very insightful observation though.”

I was to remember this period in my life when I stepped into Domboshawa this week, and came across a “peculiarly” named bar. Domboshawa, a domicile mostly rural urban community, is situated about 30 kilometers from Harare. However, a lot of urban dwellings have since sprouted up with residents from Harare who could not access stands preferring to settle in this area.

My most favourable part of Domboshawa are its rolling granite hills. Next to bird watching one of my favourite pastimes is mountain climbing, a habit I picked way back at St David’s Bonda in Nyanga where we made forays into a lot of mountains there.

Domboshawa is home to a wide array of SMEs who are in the agricultural sector. I met Mr Banda, who is a part of a furniture cooperative that is doing very well. The growth of this community is also manifest by the number of big companies such as Nyaradzo, Feedmix, ProFeeds and others that have decided to set up shop at the Shopping Centre. It is so refreshing to see these domicile areas thriving.

But the subject of my topic today is an entertainment place I found at the back of the shopping centre, aptly named “99 Missed Calls.”  Now dear reader I know you are really thinking about this one. I also starred at this name with disbelief. Further investigations into the history and origins of this name proved fruitless. Thank God she inspired some entrepreneurial flair and today we are writing about it

What is a name?

Naming your business correctly is one of the most important exercises that you can ever undertake. According to the website;, “If you want customers to be able to find you, talk about you and recommend you, you need a business name which should define you and identify what you sell. In addition, the name should be able to help you impress investors. According to Robert Shapiro, there are many reasons why people name their businesses very badly. To this end this process is not given ample time and due diligence.

According to Shapiro, new business owners should desist from thinking that they can name their businesses by themselves and seek the necessary assistance.

What are some of the ‘sins of naming a business?”

Firstly, it is important not to pick a name that is hard to spell. A hard to spell name will eventually give you problems with email addresses and even web links. In addition, if your business needs to go global then different cultures might find it difficult to pronounce or place meaning on the name. 

What started out as an online bookstore has extended to include some other merchandise. In addition, names should also be timeless, as what is trending today can be outdated tomorrow.

Mimicking already established brands is yet another sin. My personal opinion is that though it is ride on the brand’s “hardwork”. have seen a new brand of a juice named “Kwench”.  According to an article entitled “The Effects of Brand Name Similarity on Brand Source Confusion, Implications for Trademark Infringement” people might confuse two trademarks leading to trademark infringement. The article points out that”

Other notable examples are names that confuse your marketing. For example, naming an Information Technology company, Yum Yum is bound to confuse the market as the latter is usually associated with food.

What to do when naming companies?

There are some simple rules in naming companies. Firstly, the name should be catchy and should be remembered. Though I have my opinions on “99 Missed Calls” I will admit that, it has some “catchiness to it.” Secondly the name should be unique and should have some inspiration behind it. Very importantly, the name should be easily pronounced.

According to the Guardian, “With most businesses now requiring an online presence it’s also important to consider the availability of domain names which stand out and reflect clearly what your business is offering.’ The publication goes on to warn that “Sometimes a bad company name can actually annoy investors.”

There are several alternative online resources that one can use in name generation such as Logaster, BizNameWiz, Name Mesh, Shopify and Panabee.

Examples of bad company names

Cum and Go is the name given to a chain of gas stations. Others include, STD Contractors, Hindenburger, ThaiTanic, Little Hope Cemetery and I will Cut You Hair Studio. The Toyota Previa an elegant looking family car was also found wanting in terms of its name. Google was named when an investor erroneously spelt Google on a cheque, instead of its original name Googol, which means the number 1 followed by a 100 zeros.

The name CISCO is simply short for San Francisco. CocaCola comes from the cocoa leaves and kola nuts used as flavouring in the soft drink. Lastly, Reebok is an alternate spelling for rhebok an African Antelope.

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