The Name Game

When it came to the decision of determining a name for my maternity boutique which sold high end organic clothing and accessories for the urban mother-to-be, I hashed out a series of common names that came to mind: The Organic Bump, Whole Wheat Bun-in-the-Oven, Babes in Momland, The Urban Organic Mama, Phat Mat…you name it, I wrote it down.

I wondered how I could combine my specialty niche market with more creativity and meaning to make it distinctive. Then one day, I thought of my own mother and my first experience of motherhood. The name Nima'ma came to me as though it had been there all along. The words ni mama were taken from my own mother's Woodland Cree dialect which simply meant “My Mother”. It referenced the pivotal experience of becoming a mother and the reverence to our Mother Earth and all things organic.

It was beautiful. It was unique. It was mine! And with the approval of close friends and family, I moved the apostrophe, added an incorporated legal element to it, and voila! Ni’Mama Maternity Inc. was born.

However, if I had taken the time to research more about the universal meaning of this word, I would have found out that it is a derogatory Chinese slang phrase meaning “Your mama!” Thankfully, many of my Chinese customers jokingly mentioned it to me with a smile in my store.

So while playing The Name Game, consider the impact it will have on your audience's perception.

The Right Name Can:

• describe what your business does

• project the image you want your target market to understand and relate to

• connect with your customers thus developing a brand that they will recognize and trust

The Wrong Name Can:

• mislead or confuse your customers

• drive away potential business

• offend your customers (please refrain from using obscene or vulgar terms)

Additional Rules of The Name Game

Rule #1 – K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly)

Keeping your business name short makes it much easier for customers to remember. For example, rather than calling your local lottery Maximillion, calling it MAX Lotto is a shortened format that can still denote a customer’s maximum winning potential.

If it worked for billionaire Sara Blakely of SPANX legendary supportive undergarments, then hey, it can work for you too! Now Apple may have worked wonders for Steve Jobs' billion dollar business, but has it done the same for Gwyneth Paltrow first born child? I suppose the jury’s out on the latter until later in life 😉

Rule #2 – U.S.P. (Unique Selling Proposition)

In advertising, defining your product’s USP through your business name means that you’re

presenting your business's defining difference to the public. So consider coming up with a name that has a distinctive and descriptive element to it by putting two words together to create a new word. Made-up words are more memorable and can be easily trademarked due to their unique quality.

Think of words that describe what makes your business unique. That is, how is your biz better than your competition?

Whatever you do, do not take a name that is already out there, even if that company may be in a completely unrelated market to yours; and do not choose an already trade-marked name. Check online or at Small Business BC to ensure that you will have the rights to your business’s name.

Rule #3 – C.E.O. (Chief Ego Owner)

Every business owner is dying to list CEO after their name to prove to the world that they are in control of a burgeoning business! But does naming your company with your own name tell prospective customers what your business does?

If I had called my maternity retail store TEENA, customers would have thought Teena what? Who’s Teena? Who cares! So do consider selecting a name that will help people understand what your company sells.

Once you have played all angles of The Name Game, by questioning detailing and describing your business elements, then the business playing field awaits. Go forth and prosper!