How to name things

What name should I use for my business?

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Dear Uncle Matthew, I notice you trade under Articulate Marketing – and what a great name that is, by the way – rather than Matthew Stibbe. Just wondering what you think the pros and cons are.

I imagine that the Stibbe brand was well known when you left journalism, so you must have been sacrificing some profile. It may be that you needed to employ, subcontract etc, but you could have gone with Matthew Stibbe Associates, or something similar. I’m thinking of incorporating and I wonder if I should use my own name or if I should go with something more ‘corporate’. What do you think?

- Rose by any other name

Dear Rose,

You can read the story of how I came up with the name Articulate Marketing here.

But that article doesn’t cover the thinking behind using my own name or not. In fact, it was quite simple in my case. I got the advice of a marketing expert at one of my clients. She told me that all the agencies that she worked with had ‘big company’ style names and that, as a multinational, they tended not to work with individual freelancers. In other words, I needed to look enough like a big company to reassure them that I could do the business but enough like a small company to prove that I was more nimble than the other agencies who were my competition.

Also, having already started one business with a bit of a silly name and seen it grow into a 70-person leviathan which I subsequently sold, I didn’t want to limit my options by tying the company name to my own.

Lastly, I don’t think that my reputation as a freelance journalist was so great that I would have benefitted from it in the corporate world. If anything, the opposite. I really wanted people to stop seeing me as a journalist. You can imagine that a big IT firm would not be keen on revealing its secrets and plans to someone they thought would post them on The Register the next day.

So there are three reasons why I chose Articulate Marketing over, say, Stibbe Associates. Your mileage may differ and the choice depends a lot on who your clients are and how your name positions you in the market. My only solid advice is to think about it carefully (but don’t overthink it) and then make a bold decision.

- Uncle Matthew

Copywriting Secrets for Marketing Experts video

Matthew Stibbe

Matthew is founder and CEO of Articulate Marketing.