How important is a name?

“Okay. I am finally taking the plunge and starting a side business. I guess it is actually more like getting my feet wet, since my target sales goal for now is to cover my daycare expenses. At any rate, I am to the point where I need to call myself ’something.’ How important is a name? What should the strategy be for choosing one?

“In my case, I am selling unique and custom made jewelry. My starting venue is going to be eBay until I can get a better idea of my market and earn enough to generate a decent webpage. I need to pick a seller name that I think will stimulate and reassure my buyers. I could call it ‘Emily’s [Adjective Noun],’ but I don’t think that is very noteworthy. If I’m going to be ordinary, I might as well go with 12345 and just get to selling.

“I had considered something along the lines of ‘You Deserve It’ to try to give that extra push to bid. My husband asked me if I would use ‘U’ instead of ‘You.’ What is too gimmicky? Is the texting generation old enough yet to be financially viable? Does a gimmick like this turn off more customers than it targets? I think yes, but I’ve learned better than to go with my gut before asking questions.

“Also, I came up with a great quote yesterday: ‘I would much rather be multi-faceted than well rounded.’ In this world of synchronicity, by golly, I’m going to get my name attached to it before someone else does. I’m probably already too late. I know there are few original ideas, but maybe this one hasn’t been presented in quite this way.

“Much more flattering to one’s occlusions. Better to emphasize one’s strengths than to focus on improving the weak areas. (That’s what a team is for.) You get the picture.”

Emily Crawford

Dale, NY


Dear Emily,

I’ve reprinted your letter pretty much in its entirety because it is so well written. You have a talent for writing. You are smart. You are energetic. You are positive. And those qualities show.

My main recommendation is that you should master the art of copywriting. You will be able to use it to promote your jewelry business. And you can use it to make a handsome second income at night and on the weekends. In today’s economy, having a second income counts.

Now, to answer your question…

I have never given much time and energy to creating company names. And when I do spend time on them, I tend to be conservative. My rationale is this: When you are small, you don’t want your name to turn people off or confuse them. You want them to be able to remember it. You want them to be able to search for it and find it without a lot of trouble.

Thus names like U Deserve This don’t appeal to me. It’s likely that it will turn off customers who aren’t egocentric. And it is equally likely that those who do like it will remember the sentiment but forget the phrase.

Don’t believe marketing gurus who tell you that picking a good name for your business is critical to your sales. What matters most is the marketing that you do. That gets us back to copywriting – something you should spend some time on. Spend no more than 30 minutes picking a name, and then get on to more important matters.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]