What's In A Name?

Crucial Name Selection

I'm wondering if there are rules for creating business names.

QUESTION: What should be the maximum amount of letters in a business name?

Fern Swecker

Via e-mail

ANSWER: The professional marketing firms that create names for automobiles and other products tend to choose names that range from four to eight letters, like Acura, Infiniti and Lexus. But, for a start-up business with a limited marketing budget, length isn't necessarily the most important factor in choosing a name.

As we explain in Getting Business to Come to You (Putnam Publishing Group), the name you choose can be one of the most important marketing decisions you make. A vague, misleading name, no matter how short, can lose business for you. A name that's easy to spell and pronounce, describes what you do and distinguishes you from others can bring you business.

Jerywil, for example, is a short name, but it's not a good one from a marketing perspective. It's difficult to spell, hard to remember and provides no indication of the type of business it represents. Investigative Services for Attorneys is longer but more effective as a marketing tool because the name represents what the company does.

Within the parameters of these principles, however, we recommend that you make your business name short enough to fit on one line of letterhead, a business card, a telephone-directory listing or a Web site.

Small-business experts Paul and Sarah Edwards recently released their second edition of Getting Business To Come To You (Putnam Publishing Group).