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What's In A Name?

It depends. If your company's name doesn't describe the product or service you provide, it shouldn't be the focus of your advertising.

This story appears in the March 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Have you ever stood at the glass-encased directory in the lobby of an office building and, while scanning it for the firm you're visiting, come across nondescript company names that made you think, "I wonder what they do?" What kind of business is Niemeyer & Associates? What do they make at Fisher Technologies? What do they do at O'Connor Industries? And what the heck is The Campbell Connection? Chances are, you'll go to your grave never knowing that Niemeyer is a terrific home and office interior design firm, Fisher makes a device that automatically controls the chemical balance in your hot tub, O'Connor builds prefab sheds for the backyard and Campbell can get you a great deal on a used PC.

My point is not really that your amorphously named company should also have a description in its building's directory (although that might get you an accidental customer or two), but that a company name alone, particularly an unremarkable one, won't sell beans. I find, however, that a surprising number of entrepreneurs still use the most important panel of their company brochure--the front page--to introduce the name of their enterprise and not much else. That decision always gets my Golden Noogie Award.

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