STAMFORD, Conn. ( TheStreet) -- Starting a company can be a life-consuming venture for entrepreneurs, so it's understandable that they're often tempted to name their companies after something personal -- a family pet, a street name, the girl who turned them down for prom. But naming a company is not like naming a garage band.
"Brand names are under the goodwill line of your balance sheet," says Lisa Singer, president and creative director of Namebase, a branding company in Stamford, Conn.
In fact, it's a big enough deal that branding companies charge up to $150,000 for a corporate appellation. Here are some tips of the trade from some of the nation's professional namers.
1. Think about the message you're sendingAsk yourself where you see your business in five years. "We ask clients, 'What do you think will come out of this company or product line long-term?'" says Singer. The same goes for a company's products. "It's not just the fact that we're naming the product," says Clayton Tolley, chief executive officer of Addison Whitney, the Charlotte, N.C., company responsible for product names such as "Outlook" for Microsoft (MSFT) and "Kissables" for Hershey (HSY). "We also have to look at how the name is going to be affiliated with the corporate brand." When General Motors hired Addison Whitney to develop a name for a new line of SUVs, the company noticed that competing vehicles featured names that highlight their ability to navigate rough terrain, such as the Ford Explorer, the Nissan (NSANY) Pathfinder and the Toyota (TM)Highlander. "But Cadillac is not about trying to get there," Tolley says. "You've already arrived when you're in a Cadillac."
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