One of the most popular questions that finds its way into my email box and throughout my various social sites is: What’s a good name for my photography business?
I’ve touched on a lot of issues in two of my posts:
But there are several other things you should think about when you’re deciding on a name, and a few resources you should keep in mind.
Will you be trademarking your name?
Twenty years ago, your photography business would only be in competition with other photographers in your local area. Not true anymore. Now you’re in competition with photographers from all over the world. If you travel regularly as a wedding photographer (as we did starting in the mid 1990’s) your branding extends well beyond local lines. Trademarking your name gives you added protection of having someone come in and choosing something similar, and trying to ride on your coattails. It’s also important as you expand into multiple areas: books, gift products, artwork, etc.
You can trademark your name and any branding material, such as a logo. While there are many companies and law offices out there that will help you with the trademarking process, two of my favorite sites are Nolo and the USPTO. Nolo is a legal site filled with all kinds of help for small businesses. You can order books, legal forms, and even find a lawyer in your area if that’s your next step. They have a great book on Trademarking that gives you everything you need to know about the trademark process and protecting your name. The USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) has a ton of information on trademarking. They have an online search function that allows you to put in your name ideas, and see if anyone else has trademarked it. And once you file for trademark status, you can follow it online as well.
Check out domain names.
I mentioned this before in one of the above articles, but because of its importance I’m expanding here. In this online world, the most important thing you need is a strong domain name. If your company name is ABCPhotography, and another studio already has the domain, just by promoting yourself as ABCPhotography will cause some people to head online and type ABCPhotography.com to find your site. If your competition comes up instead, you may loose quite a bit of business.
Also think about different spellings of your name, and how other people may choose to find you. How about your name? Just because your studio is ABCPhotography doesn’t mean they won’t try to find you by your name – especially if you are the only photographer there. I’ve had LoriOsterberg.com for years, and change it all the time to give people an overview and link them up to my various sites.
Make it a winning name.
What if I told you my business name was Lost Images? What comes to mind? Why would I trust a photographer who loses images? A business name must match the industry, and provide quality assurance in what you do. A moving company would never choose Babyland Moving. You’re mixing two different ideas, and confusing your potential customers.
Also watch for hidden meanings, or names that people ask about the opposite. A name of “Creative Focus Photography” or “In Focus Photography” leads to the question, “Is focusing going to be an issue with this company?” What looks good on paper may have a whole different meaning when you say it out loud. Ask your friends and family about your ideas. What questions come up when they hear your name selections? What visuals come to mind?
Words have positive, neutral and negative connotations. Putting different types of words together can bring on entirely new meanings, and affect the way people look at your business. For example, Mom is typically associated as being a strong, positive word. When you think of Mom, it brings out the positive emotions in most of us. Mother, however, is more neutral.
Also watch for word inventions. Places like Amazon or Chryticlania are perfect examples. Amazon is now associated with online shopping, and they spent millions branding that, and making sure you associate Amazon with shopping. Chryticlania is a word I made up, and it probably took you a few seconds to sound it out and try and decipher how to say it. And that’s where your focus went – how do I say/spell it? That was above and beyond trying to decide what it is. As a small business, you don’t have the opportunity to spend millions branding. People have to know instantly what you do and what you offer. Don’t make it difficult. Keep it simple. And most of all make it memorable.