Quell is just a Niederquell with a capital Q

While a rose by any other name might smell just as sweet, a company or product name can likely dictate its eventual success or failure in the marketplace. Consider the following: Would Buffalo Wild Wings be a popular national chain if its name were Aunt Erma’s Tasty Cluckers? How about an athletic apparel company named Strong Skivvies? Or a computer firm named Kumquat?

Naming a company, like naming a child, is no small task. A name can define a business, shaping everything from the employees it hires to creating buzz in the market. Every company wants to be distinctive, memorable and recognized — and in a good way. A great name can help make that happen.

For the past two decades, The Quell Group has had the privilege of naming several companies and products. This is a full team effort. Not only must names carry the burden of the brand, today’s names often double as a company’s URL. To create brand awareness and consistency in our Web-based marketplace, we recommend that a company name also serve as its Web address. Really, who would look up Coca-Cola with the URL www.brownsugarbubbles.com?

Companies can spend millions on a naming strategy, including securing a URL and developing a logo design. Creative directors, Web designers, patent lawyers, research firms, market analysts, focus groups and an army of account executives can quickly turn a naming exercise into an Olympic event. Given the magnitude of the task, naming can take months — even years — to get right; even then it can boil down to luck and timing.

Quell uses a proven approach to company naming that is research based. It includes thorough research on the business itself, the products it makes, its goals, market, competitors and the customers it wants to reach.

There are generally three types of names:

  • Descriptive names tell what a company does. Think Five Guys Burgers & Fries or Designer Shoe Warehouse.
  • Suggestive names hint at what a company does, like Molly Maids or Geek Squad. Names like Puma (fast cat), Zappos (modified spelling of the Spanish word for shoes) and Reebok (Afrikaans spelling of rhebok, a type of gazelle) have some link to the company. Even IKEA means something — it’s an acronym for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd, the founder, and the name of his hometown and farm.
  • Arbitrary names are just that. They generally have nothing to do with the nature of the company or product. Bahama Breeze may be a great place to eat, but without the word restaurant attached, it might be an air freshener. A “red bull” is literally an intact ginger cow. How does that give you wings?

The Quell Group offers several suggestions when beginning a naming exercise. The first: Start with a strong cup of coffee. Then check for available URLs and search the USPTO to see what clears. This only serves as a base search and is not a substitute for a more diligent clearance and registration investigation by an IP firm.

Upwards of 75 percent of all consumer purchases are made because of a company’s name. A successful name/brand can command a 30 percent premium in the market. Since a company’s name is its No. 1 asset, we suggest you do as the Grail Knight (from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) suggests, and “choose wisely.” Your company’s life might depend on it.

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