Continuing our theme of New Year housekeeping, this is another good exercise – a quick post to explain your business name.

In our work with small businesses, we often find an obsession with brand. I’ve met small business owners with no clients, no money and really not much of an idea about what it is they actually do or how they’ll find work, spending hours and hours obsessing about what they’re going to call themselves.

It can be a fun distraction, but it’s exactly that and risks damaging the business. It’s a question of priorities. And I would much rather have work to do and money to earn than the perfect brand. So I’d encourage new starts not to think too much about what they call themselves. You can always change it later.

That’s what we did. When what is now ‘Comsteria’ launched back in 2011, Emma was still a full-time secondary school English teacher. The business was just me. I’d built a carer in the media and intended to offer media training as my main product. I figured more people knew me than any ‘brand’ I could hope to create, so I simply called the business ‘Colin Kelly Media’ and off I went.

Fast forward a few years and by 2018, Emma was on board full-time, we had a much larger number of clients and had expanded our range of products and services. I wanted to take my name out and drop ‘media’ which was becoming increasingly over-used and meaningless. I decided I only wanted to change the name once. And I needed something that was future-proof and could work regardless of what we did in future. The pace of change is such that I couldn’t be sure (and I’m still not sure) what we’ll be doing in 5-10 years from now. Producing more podcasts? Selling on-demand training videos? Live streaming? Writing books? All of the above?

I also wanted a name that we could secure across all the major social networking channels. I wanted to try and avoid the dreaded ‘underscore’ on Twitter and Instagram for example and securing all the major domain name extensions was also important. I’ve never been a fan of business names that are play on words eg ‘Write Stuff’ and ‘Perfect Curve’ and all that. Although I do think actually calling yourself ‘Surname and Surname’ like one agency did is brilliant, I didn’t really want our names in it.

And I still come back to my original point: the name of your business is secondary to the quality of your products and services, your customer base, cashflow and all that important stuff. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. If you’re any good as a business, people should quickly look past it and barely notice it. ‘IBM’ is one of the greatest business names of all time in my opinion. It’s just there. So, my criteria was to find a name that was:
– Unique
– Future proof (not too reliant on or descriptive of a particular product or service)
– Not a play on words
– Available across domain names and social platforms
– A single, fairly short, word (Twitter only allows 15 characters in user names)
– Easy to say
– Somehow meaningful in some way but not too much!
– Available for to be trademarked

I mulled all this over in my spare time for a couple of weeks then set a deadline. By the end of one particular Thursday the name would be decided and there would be no going back. I decided our company name would change at the end of our financial year and would be updated by our accountant at Companies House. I knew when he was logging in to file our return and he would update the record at the same time.

The pressure was on and I read an excellent article about naming your business which explained that Shakespeare had a habit of making words up when he had to. And one easy way to make words up was to simply join two together. Then I read another interesting post about your business name reflecting the problem you solve rather than the things you do. And perhaps even exaggerate the problem and see what words you come up with.

The first word was easy. Everything we deliver, everything we are interested in can be grouped around ‘communication’. Many of our clients work in ‘comms’. We train a lot of ‘comms teams’. So there’s the first part of my new, made up word.

Then I thought of the problem we solve. I thought of the social media, the digital, this changing world of comms and some of the attitudes Emma and I encounter in our training. We’ve got these ‘comms teams’ and they’re battling with all this change, this madness, this….hysteria.

Communications hysteria.

That’s it.

Not the best name in the world, won’t win any awards and my Mum still isn’t particularly keen. But that’s what we went with, it does exactly what we needed it to do, that’s how you say it (‘coms-tee-ree-ah’) and we move on!

Categories: BrandComsteria