Tuesday, Jun 11, 2024

The Name of the Game

Keeping our good name is something we all strive for. After all, our names are synonymous with our reputations. In order to keep a name, we first have to devise one and that's when the creativity starts. When it comes to naming newborns, the selection process is well established. The baby is usually named in memory of a departed loved one. Naming your second baby – your business or other enterprise – is a greater challenge. You only have one, or two, or three pithy words to tell people who you are and what you do.

This very topic was just covered in depth in last week’s Mishpacha Magazine by the talented Mrs. Chany Rosengarten. I was privileged to be one of the professionals whose advice was sought for the piece. The first question she asked me was: how do marketers come up with the name? It’s a great question. While professionals are trained for this, every time we are hired for a new job, it is a brand new contest.


The first step is to understand that choosing a name is a cooperative venture. Just as a husband and wife (hopefully) consult each other before naming their infant, I always ask my clients to suggest two names that they were already considering and to bring me two more that they already rejected. Hearing out the client and seeing their likes — and dislikes — clues me in as to how they think and what would best suit them.


Once the brainstorming process has begun, the marketing firm has to roll up its sleeves, do some market research on the potential names and apply plenty of creativity in figuring out which name will capture the market. A little more than 30 years ago, a company with humble beginnings in a garage began developing software for microcomputers. Its founder, Bill Gates, named the firm Microsoft. He named his business after what it did, but do you see how he made it catchy? (It’s easier to walk up to the sales counter and say, I’d like to buy Microsoft Office, than I’d like to buy Software for Microcomputers Office.)


When Steve Jobs was stymied in naming his company, he threatened his creative team that if they didn’t come up with a better name by 5 pm, he would name the company after his favorite fruit. Apple has little in common with computers, but boy what a bite they have taken out of the market. It just goes to show that there is more than one way to skin a cat (or peel an apple!) When it comes down to the Bottom Line (yes, I love the name), I always ask Hashem, ata chonen l’adam daas, please grant me the wisdom I need. Our entire existence and anything we think we’re creating is really only HaKodosh Baruch Hu’s creativity anyway.


Yes, there are some time-honored approaches if you’re stuck for a name. The Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests that you imagine how potential names will look on business cards, advertisements, and with a logo. I would take this one step further these days, when every business must open along with an online presence. Since 98 percent of the English dictionary is already in use as URLs for websites, I advise proprietors to buy more than one prospective name. It only costs $10 a pop and that’s a smaller price to pay than learning that the name you finally chose is no longer available.


The SBA also recommends making sure the name is easy to pronounce and to be careful about its connotations. That’s where a good marketing firm comes into play again, because we are trained to spot nuances.


My Orthodox Jewish clients often ask me about using Hebrew names, and where appropriate, I think it’s a great idea. We were honored to name “Masbia” and “Shalom Across America,” to name a few. (Actually I must give credit to Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz, with whom we jointly developed the name “Shalom Across America.” I don’t think Rabbi Lipschutz freelances, but needless to say he’s quite talented!)


This Week’s Bottom Line Action Step: When drawing up the plans for a new business, “Crown it with a good name!”




Yitzchok Saftlas is the CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group, a premier marketing agency recognized for its goal-oriented branding, sales, and recruitment and fundraising techniques. Serving corporate, non-profit and political clientele, Bottom Line’s notable clients include: Mike Bloomberg for Mayor, Dirshu and TeachNYS.


Readers are encouraged to submit their marketing questions to: ys@BottomLineMG.com






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