Someone asked about what to name their new statistical consulting company. They were worried about choosing a name that was too similar to another company out there. This can be an issue. This is what I replied.
Names are important and you want to avoid choosing something that will cause confusion among customers. Apple Computers had difficulty with this. They used a name that was already used by Apple Recording Studios. No problem, they thought. Computers and music are too different things. So they negotiated with Apple Recording Studios and promised to stay far away from music. Fast forward 20 years and Apple Computer wants to put music on its iPhones. This led to a lot more contentious negotiations. Not so fast, Apple Recording Studios said. You promised us to stay far away from music.
It’s been resolved, and Apple Records and Apple Computers are now best buds. Unfortunately, but there are plenty of other examples out there. There are only so many words out there that can describe a business, so clashes in naming are a perpetual problem. Even if you don’t end up in a legal battle, you want a name that pops up with your website as #1 on a search engine. Certain words in company names (“quality” comes to mind) will put you in a big pool of search results and you will get lost in the shuffle.
Companies will often use deliberate misspellings to make sure that they are not emulated. Another strategy is to include your initials in your company name. So I could call myself sds-consulting, for example. A full name (steve-simon-consulting) is even better. Combining two or three very different words can also help. One company name that works well for this is “Mountain Whisper Light”. Another one, though “The Analysis Factor” has to compete with all the sites talking about factor analysis. My company, P.Mean Consulting, also does poorly because a Google search yields inquiries about what the letter “P” stands for.
It might not hurt to do a Google search on a variety of proposed names and see if something comes up that could compete for attention with your name or which could cause confusion. Also look at whether the url that is closest to your business name or the handle you might use on Twitter has already been taken by someone else. I am fine with pmean for my website, but sadly someone else already has @pmean on Twitter. So there I have to use @profmean.