What Your Company Name Should Say

November 7, 2017
By Josh Kilen

What Your Company Name Should Say

(Don't Make Your Business Name A Pun)
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I recently had to completely rebrand my company – name and everything.

My old name was confusing; clever, but unclear.

My new name is more on the nose; boring, maybe, but it says exactly what I do.

My business name used to be KilenIT (short for Kilen Information Technologies) and now it’s Cascade Digital Marketing. Cascade better reflects what my company does and how we can help small businesses. KilenIT did none of those things and made my customers uncertain and hesitant.

It all started in 2015 when I was thinking of a name for my new company. For weeks, I went through name after name, but none of them fit. Then one night I had an epiphany.

My last name is Kilen, pronounced ‘Kee-Lan,’ but most people mispronounce as ‘Kill-in.’ Wouldn’t it be great to name my company KilenIT, as in “We’re Killin It!

Of course, the problem was that I don’t do IT work as most people think of it. I build websites and handle marketing. But I imagined that those services are a type of Information Technology and people would understand.

People did not understand.

For the past two years I’ve had to field the same questions from customers with confused looks on their faces when they heard my company name.

“So, you do IT work?” They say.

“No,” I respond, holding in my exasperation, “I help people with websites and digital marketing like AdWords, SEO, and Copywriting.”

“Oh.” They say.

The conversation doesn’t move on much from there.

Confuse your clients once, lose them forever.

A few brave souls actually told me, “That’s pretty confusing. You should change your name.” How right they were, but I just couldn’t see it at the time.

I held on to the belief that people just needed time to get used to the name, but it became obvious that this was not the case. The name was confusing, no matter how awesome and punny I thought it was.

So, I changed it.

If you are trying to find a good name for your company, don’t be cute. Don’t pick a name that people have to work to understand. Your client’s brains are already working hard enough just trying to make sense of the world, don’t make them work to make sense of your name too. That’s just wrong.

Pick a name that sounds strong, and isn’t completely off topic from your industry. And if it’s a little boring, that’s okay.

The point is to be clear, not clever.

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