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Choosing a Business Name

Well as any good marketer knows (and as I found out) your business name can be a factor in either making or breaking a startup company. A year and a half ago Sentient Development was founded—and has recently been renamed Simple Station Inc. This is the story of why the basic rules of naming play such an important part of the business world.

In the case of “Sentient Development” the name was long, lengthy, and much to my surprise, very few people actually knew what the word “Sentient” meant.

The original business name was based off the thought of creating web-based software that didn’t force the user to think. Hence the word:

Sentient: Self-aware, choice-making consciousness.

The concept was that our business name would reflect the qualities we hoped our users would be able to easily reflect while using our software. Unfortunately, as much as we tried, the name just couldn’t stick, and most of our customers started referring to us as “Senti” which was a derivative of the word Sentient. Soon enough, we started calling ourselves by the name as it was simple and easily rolled off the tongue.

Over the course of our first year of business we ran into all kinds of issues:

  • Cheques were spelled incorrectly, or made out to “Senti” instead of our full name
  • Bank tellers could not pronounce the company name
  • Every time we called the Canada Revenue Agency we had to spell out the name
  • Our clients had difficulty remembering the name, which was terrible for referrals
  • Working with the name to create marketing slogans was difficult: how do you get people to remember a name that they can’t even spell?

With this in mind, I have been hard at work to correct the image over the past few months and have settled on the new business name: “Simple Station”. This new name came while returning home on a train from downtown Boston after a late night working.

This was a result of my current focus on “simplicity” for the web. Just for fun, here’s what it means to me:

Simple Station — Your stop for simplicity in web design. We concentrate on clean lines, fresh looking interfaces, and highly accessible websites. Like any good train station, you’ll find the workers friendly and sandwiches a plenty.

It’s amazing what a difference switching to this name has already made. We’ve never been as busy as we are now, and I haven’t had to repeat the business name more than once to anyone. Best of all I’ve got a million ideas about how to use the name in all kinds of marketing material.
If you are a new business owner, and are having difficulty deciding on your business name, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping it simple. If you have to grab a dictionary to define it’s meaning, you’re probably on the wrong track.

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  1. ... of a good name in establishing your online brand and identity. A while back we wrote an article on choosing a good business name based on my experience in founding Sentient Development (Which I renamed a mere 1 year later to ...