I like to tell my clients to be very careful choosing their business name and I actually do a workshop on the topic. A good friend of mine told me of his new company name, Dubble Exxpress Go. Now anyone would have the devil of a time finding this in the phone book because rightly so the spelling is not usual for those words no matter how disjointed or perhaps inebriated a person may be. My friend, Xerxes, is a lovely guy and the fact that he is from India should not be relevant to his choice of business names but wait – Imagine for a moment Xerxes answering the phone in an excited East Indian accent.

He gets so excited talking to customers his English is sometimes difficult to hear clearly. I quickly offered to remedy the situation by offering to produce a website for him so that his customers would find him through the web versus the phone book. With some good SEO and my usual flair for picking names, lol, I created a website called www.vancouvervendingmachines.com.

Does this leave anything to the imagination as to what Xerxes actually sells? Yes, his product is vending machines but he doesn’t sell them he places them in businesses free of charge and people only pay for the product which he diligently collects once a week with a smile and his jubilant personality. I love this guy but geez the name leaves much to be desired. When you type in his website it comes up nicely with his Dubble Exxpress Go name and his unique logo. But at least I had my input to the website.

There have been some monumental blunders in marketing history. Hoover, maker of vacuum cleaners, sells a model on the European market, including Germany, called the Zyklon.

Zyklon is the German word for Cyclone, so it is a seemingly sensible choice for a powerful vacuum. However, Zyklon B is the lethal gas used by Nazis in concentration camps. I would think that the name would draw protests, but I see German web sites currently selling the vacuums for less than 200 euro.

Meanwhile, CNN.com reported on August 28, 2002, that British shoe maker Umbro received many protests for its running shoe the Zyklon. Umbro apologized and renamed it. Apparently, the shoe had been named the Zyklon since 1999, but they had not written the name on the shoe until recently.

A week later, BBC News reported that Bosch Siemens Hausgeraete (BSH) was withdrawing its trademark application for the name Zyklon. BSH had filed two applications with the US Patent & Trademark Office for “Zyklon” across a range of home products, including gas ovens.

When you choose the name of your business remember that this is your baby, yours to have and to hold for as long as you are in business. So make it memorable or at least make it something you can relate to or feel good about.

I remember in the 1980’s going to a Numerologist friend of mine for help choosing the name of my new photography business. After much discussion back and forth we compromised with Bizzo Photography & Design. Yes the ampersand was critical to the correct numbers. I think my friend would have been happier if we had just changed my name to Caleb Smythe or something.

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