From the December 2011 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

What’s Your Name?

What’s in a name? Experts tell us  that picking the right name (for your firm) can be crucial when it comes to marketing and branding your new empire. What you call yourself can definitely sway people’s first opinion of you. Think about it … would you buy ice cream from Sal Monello’s Dairy Shop? Sorry Sal.

Countless books and late night infomercials have been created to guide us through the all-important name selection process. Recently, I attended a marketing symposium for financial advisors. The last session I attended was on branding your business. Naturally, the presentation was chock full of well transitioned PowerPoint slides; however, the real learning took place later that night at the bar.

As often happens at these events, many attendees realize the best way to process all the information of the day is to toss back a few cocktails that night. After dinner, I grabbed my pen, notebook and free drink coupon and headed off to see what I could learn.

It didn’t take long for me to be drawn to the loud table. There was way too much laughter going on. I knew I had to investigate. I walked over to the table and interrupted them, “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice how much fun you guys were having. Can I buy a round of drinks and hang out here … my friends are really dull.”

Having been successfully assimilated into the pod, I found out why they had all been laughing so hard. They were making fun of financial advisors (gasp!). When I told them I made fun of advisors professionally, I was in.

It soon came out that my new friends all worked in the marketing departments for a number of well-known broker dealers. They worked with advisors on a daily basis to assist them with any marketing concerns they might have. Sensing a treasure trove of information, this reporter ordered another round!

I’ll spare you the all the dirty sausage-making details and get right to the good stuff. For those of you thinking of branching out on your own, here are a few tips from the pros about naming your business:

Tip 1: Do not use your name in the title if your name is weird, difficult to pronounce or ironic. For example, if your last name is any of the following, you might want to go in another direction … Crook, Ahmadinejad, Madoff, Milken, Capone or Lucifer (to name a few).

Tip 2: Leave your childhood fantasies out of it. Just because you always wanted to be a cowboy, isn’t a good enough reason to call your company Rodeo Clown Financial. Likewise, if you wanted to be a stand-up comic, Big Ham Advisors probably won’t cut it either.

Tip 3: Avoid the obvious. As tempting as the logo possibilities might be, avoid anything with a lighthouse, compass, sailboat, map, road, path, blueprint or a Latin term you can’t pronounce.

Tip 4: Don’t try to be something you’re not. Unless you have the college loans to prove it, you’re most likely not a Physician or an Architect.

Tip 5: Listen to the pros. You don’t go to a plumber to fix your cable TV. Passing the Series 7 exam is not the equivalent of a master’s degree in marketing. Sorry.

So there you have it: a few, common-sense steps from the pros to help you along the path to branding greatness. Naturally, these tips apply to most advisors. The few of you that are marketing experts can feel free to blaze your own trail. You know who you are.

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