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The Right Name for Your Business

Keep domain-name availability in mind and ask a friend or relative with a knack for words to help you brainstorm. You can also hire a consultant or agency

I am starting a personal shopping business to do fashion and style makeovers for private clients. I'm looking for a great name for this business that has class, pizzazz, and perhaps a comic touch. Can you help? —A.C., Toronto Naming a business, brand, or product is a creative process. There are people who are exceptionally talented when it comes to finding the right combination of words and nuance to capture both the essence of your brand and the public's imagination, says Steve Cone, executive vice-president of Epsilon, a direct marketing agency based in Dallas, and author of Powerlines: Words That Sell Brands, Grip Fans, and Sometimes Change History. "All the great names in marketing history were created by individuals who are great writers. Sometimes they're professionals and sometimes they are not," Cone says. "Whatever you do, don't use committees or focus groups to find a name. That could kill your company." With the importance of the Web to your marketing plans, you should also consider the availability of Web site domains as you are selecting a business name, says Michael Weiss, CEO of imagistic, a digital marketing and technology firm based in Southern California. "You have the luxury of naming your company and choosing your URL at the same time. Many companies have been named because the URL was available," he notes. Take your dilemma to a friend or relative who has a knack for catchy word combinations. If you can't find someone in your personal network, put the word out that you are looking for a professional and be prepared to pay someone to brainstorm for you. Distinguish Your Company

Your main goal is to establish something different about your new firm that makes your service distinct from other clothing consultants, Cone says, and capture that in your company name, tagline, and/or slogan. "Whenever possible, a company name should have personality and attitude. It needs to convey the unique selling proposition of your firm," he says. Mike Carr, a co-founder of NameStormers in Austin, Tex., advises clients to consult the dictionary and thesaurus for company name ideas. Synonyms, key words, and translations of your major concepts can help suggest a clever, memorable business name, he says. "Focus your attention on the shortest, easiest-to-spell synonyms," he says. "Ideally two syllables and no more than eight letters." Avoid tired words and phrases, Cone warns: "So many names, slogans, and taglines are platitudes and overused words like 'life,' 'power,' and 'promise' that don't mean much." His suggestion for your firm name: Full Disclothesure. "It says 'I'm going to help you with everything you need, from a clothing standpoint,' " Cone says.

Karen E. Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues.

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