NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Did you know what's in a name could make or break your business, especially for small, emerging companies?
"The natural tendency on the part of small-business owners and large-business executives is to do one thing: Play it safe. Playing it safe does not work in business," says Mark Stevens, a marketing and branding expert and author of Your Marketing Sucks, and Your Company Sucks: It's Time To Declare War On Yourself.
"If you're caretaking an old, established brand like UPS (UPS), that's one thing, if you're trying to grow an entity to the next level, in a world filled with competitors, whatever industry you're in you want to do things that make people stop in their tracks," Stevens says. "Although a name is not an end-all-be-all, it's very important to come up with a name that is one of two things -- highly intriguing or shocking."
That's because on a very basic marketing level, the name is a starting point for customers."You're natural instinct is to name the company based on the products it sells," like Grandma's Cupcakes, for instance, Stevens says. Instead he suggests doodling on a piece of paper or Googling ideas that have nothing to do with the product and see what you come up with. He says the goal is to come up with a sort of "wild connection" to the product or service. "Don't be afraid to take chances," he says.
Having a unique name can also become a financial asset to the company if it is sold, licensed or expanded, says Erik Pelton, a trademark lawyer in Falls Church, Va., emphasizing the need for small-business owners to register a company name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. "A very creative, a very unique name is an asset to the business -- not just in how people find it and remember it, but actually a tangible asset that has a value," Pelton says. Protecting the name also limits a growing company's susceptibility to copycats.
"You're in a much better position to deal with it quickly and more affordably if you have a registration. It's not terribly expensive -- the government filing fee is about $300" and the process takes about a year from start to finish, Pelton says. "If you have a really unique name, those are the easiest to register. You're least likely to encounter a conflict in the application process." TheStreet talked to four companies that wouldn't have had as much success without their unusual names.