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A Rose is a Rose is a Rose...

While it is true that a rose would still smell sweet if we called it a deadly nightshade, it would probably not have the same romantic connotations attached to it-or be such a best seller on Valentine's Day.

What would it mean to receive a dozen deadly nightshades from an admirer? Although a name may not actually change physical characteristics or inherent traits, it matters a lot when it comes to how something is perceived by others.

Even more so than with flowers, what you decide to name your company has a huge impact on many aspects of running the business and will be one of your company's most important assets. The company name will probably be the first impression you make on your customers; that first contact should instill confidence.

There are a few simple steps to follow when choosing your company's name. The first thing to consider is that this will be your brand. It will create and establish recognition for you and your business.

Does the name accurately describe what types of services and products your company provides? If you're selling credit card processing, it might be unwise to name your business Giraffes Unlimited. It will only lead to confusion.

But also keep the future in mind. Don't let the name of your business limit your options. For instance, if you call your business Merchant Credit Card Processing Services of 5th Street, will you be able to expand to 6th Street or even the next town?

The next thing to keep in mind is to make sure the name is easily recognizable and memorable. Is it easy to pronounce or will your customers need to consult a dictionary to figure out how to say it?

The idea is to devise an original name that your customers can both remember and repeat, which makes it easier for them to contact you-and refer other customers to you.

When choosing the name, refer to your business and marketing plans. What? You don't have a business plan?

No problem. Go to past issues of The Green Sheet, Sept. 8, 2003 (03:09:01) through Nov. 24, 2003 (03:11:02) and review how to create a business plan.

Use the business and marketing plans to guide you in the decision. Look to your mission statement as a great tool in developing a company name, which should impart the values of your company.

When you have a few possible names selected, take the list to other people. Try the names out on friends, family and current customers. Make sure you get feedback from merchants-they are your target audience after all.

Once you have your final name, you're not quite done yet. It's now time to do a little research. If you plan on trade marking (it offers more protection, but is more expensive to do) or registering (it offers less protection, but is less expensive to do) your name, you will need to do a search for available trademarks at the U. S. Patent and Trademark office's Web site at

You will also need to check on the laws for your state to make sure that you can legally use the name you have chosen. You can usually find the information you will need through the appropriate Secretary of State or Department of Corporations.

After you have made you name official, make sure you use it. Let all your current customers know the name. Send a formal letter on letterhead with the name and logo; don't forget business cards, either.

Finally, once you have chosen the name, keep it. Nothing will confuse your customers more than not knowing what to call you. They want to believe that you will be there for them in the future and that they know whom to trust.

As you set out to name your business venture, remember the rose and avoid the deadly nightshade.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
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