It’s Time to Get Creative With Company Names

Company’s intentional error spells out the importance of a catchy business name.

It’s Time to Get Creative With Company Names

Nate Patterson’s plumbing company has a unique way to catch the attention of potential customers — the misspelling of correct to “Korrect.” The company was named that by his grandfather in the 1950s. (Photo courtesy of Korrect Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning)

Interested in Business?

Get Business articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Business + Get Alerts

If you think the word “Korrect” in Korrect Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is misspelled, you are, well, correct. It sticks out like a 60-inch pipe wrench in a pile of hand tools.

And that’s what company founder Ivan Patterson undoubtedly had in mind when he established the business — and came up with the name — back in 1950 in Dayton, Ohio, says his grandson, Nate Patterson.

“It definitely gets noticed,” says Patterson, now a co-owner of the company. “People see the name on our trucks and it’s like they do a double take because it’s spelled wrong. It really catches your eye.”

Patterson says he doesn’t know how his grandfather came up with the name. “But it’s what we ended up with and it’s been very effective in branding our company,” he says.

This underscores an important point for plumbers — and it’s one that Ivan Patterson recognized 70 years ago, even though he didn’t have a marketing degree: When it comes to branding and name recognition, what you name your company matters. A lot.

“I think the name of your company is probably the most important advertising feature you have,” says Nancy O’Hare-Zika, the owner of Yellow Dog Creative. Based in Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the marketing firm caters exclusively to companies in the trades.

“Building trust within a community starts with people being able to easily learn and remember your name, which helps your company become a fixture in your community,” she explains. “And having a strong, recognizable name will help you tell your story better and create name recognition within your community.”

MAKE IT MEMORABLE

When asked for a good example of a plumbing-company name, O’Hare-Zika cites Rapid Plumbing. It not only creates an opportunity to tell a story about what differentiates the business, but it also hits on something customers desperately want during a plumbing emergency — quick service.

“It also creates name recognition, which is super important in the trades because plumbing, heating and cooling are not call-to-action industries,” she explains. “People don’t just wake up one morning and decide they want to make plumbing improvements. They only call because they wake up and there’s no hot water.

“So our job here at Yellow Dog is to make sure our partners (clients) are so well known in their communities that their company names are always on the tip of consumers’ tongues.”

If you Google “best names for plumbing companies,” 20,300,000 results pop up. The clever ones clearly stand out and evoke a sense of trustworthiness and quality. Others? Not so much.

Take Drain Surgeon, for example — a nice play on “brain surgeon” that alludes to high-precision capabilities. Or The Pipe Doctor, which connotes quality, top-level service. Or All Clear Plumbing or Down the Drain Plumbing, both of which speak to great results for customers. And the list goes on and on and on.

A good name also should easily segue into a catchy tag line. Consider SameDay Heating & Air, Plumbing and Electrical in Utah, for instance, which is a Yellow Dog client. O’Hare-Zika says the tagline naturally comes to mind: “When someday isn’t soon enough, call SameDay.” Ditto for another client, Four Seasons Plumbing — “The right call any time of year.”

“You have to look at a name as part of an entire branding package, not just a name on a truck,” she recommends.

O’Hare-Zika also notes that another client, First Call Heating and Plumbing, offers another advantage going in the name game: The name lends itself to an easy-to-say, shorthand nickname, as in First Call. The same goes for SameDay, for that matter.

NAMING NO-NO’S

One thing O’Hare-Zika doesn’t recommend is using a family name for a company — think John Smith & Sons or Mark’s Plumbing, for fictitious examples. While it’s quite common to do this, she advises against it because it’s harder to sell companies if new owners will probably need to rebrand them.

Furthermore, if someone within the family or someone with the same last name ever gets into some sort of trouble, your company is forever linked to that, she adds.

“The only way I would use a family name is if it’s already been around for decades,” she says. “Otherwise I would never, ever start a new business with a family name. One of the top things we hear from clients in terms of regrets is that they put their family name on a building or trucks.”

Plumbers also should resist naming their companies after the city or area in which they’re based. If a company is named Downtown Plumbing, for instance, and wants to expand into the suburbs, customers there may think Downtown Plumbing doesn’t serve the suburbs. The same thing holds true for Smallville Plumbing if the fictitious company decides to expand outside of Smallville.

Another no-no: Naming companies after local or regional geographic features. For instance, O’Hare-Zika notes that in Marquette, which is nestled up against Lake Superior, many business latch onto that Great Lake element. As a result, there are many business with “Superior” in their names, which makes differentiation difficult, she says.

SKIP THE POTTY HUMOR

As for potty humor and butt-crack references, O’Hare-Zika says they should be avoided at all costs. While it’s okay to use humor in branding your company, doing it via potty humor just isn’t a good idea. (So don’t even think about Butt-Crack Bros. Plumbing or taglines like, “We Pity the Stool,” “A Flush Beats a Full House” or “No. 1 in the No. 2 Business.”)

“Yellow Dog Creative was created to counter potty humor,” she says. “It’s the whole basis for our business. Companies definitely do it and companies will continue to do it. But I tell people on a weekly basis that we won’t do those kinds of commercials or marketing campaigns.

“We’re trying to change the game and increase respect for the trades and part of that is changing the image,” she continues. “I’d much rather focus on a company’s reputation for cleanliness, the essential nature of its services or how it’s always ready when customers need help. There are so many positives to talk about as opposed to bringing in all that other stuff.”

O’Hare-Zika suggests that tradesmen work with a knowledgeable marketing firm to avoid making common name mistakes. There’s too much at stake to just wing it, she says.

“You need to choose a name that allows you to be creative with it and make the company’s marketing easier for years and years down the road,” she says. “A name is so much more than just a name.”  



Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.