Business Naming Conventions

Most of us have, at one time or another, groaned at seeing yet another “Al’s Auto Shop” or “All American (insert business here)” sitting there as we drive on by to do whatever we’ doing. Most of the time, those are small businesses run by a sole proprietor or possibly a franchise. In either case, I can’t help but shudder at the sheer lack of imagination shown by whoever named the place. From what I’ve observed, there are two main trends in these generic business naming conventions:

  • Businesses named after their owner/founder.
  • Totally generic names that pop into mind if you spend only thirty seconds considering the topic.

But why? It has to be maddening trying to market for Al’s Auto Shop when customers have three businesses by that name to choose from within 5 square miles. I exaggerate (I hope), but the point is valid. In today’s market it’s essential to build your brand no matter the size of the market you’re competing in. It’s all about building relationships with customers and generating repeat business. One of the first steps in that direction is choosing a name that isn’t painfully generic.

You only get one first impression. I know that I, for one, tend to skip right over businesses with generic names. If there’s no effort or character in how they present themselves to me in that first instant, why should I think there’ll be any particular effort or unique twist put toward their product or service? I’ll pass them over in favor of someone who isn’t competing with ten thousand others for the same domain name for their website.

I’ll throw in one caveat: One type of business seems to be immune to the stigma of naming a firm after its founder, and that’s the financial industry. From local CPA firms and financial planners to the Big Four and massive investment bankers like Goldman Sachs. Something, and I suspect its the generally long lifespans and air of respectability, makes it acceptable to name your company after yourself in this area. But will even that last?

Thanks for reading,



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About Taylor Kothe

I'm a husband, accountant, and sometime blogger from Tulsa, Oklahoma. My passion is for personal finance, especially as it relates to teaching everyday people how to handle their everyday incomes and expenses. If you've ever found yourself lost in a rising tide of strange financial terms and incomprehensible policies, you're far from alone. So let's put our heads together and see if we can de-mystify some of the financial challenges that we all face.

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