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Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018
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Names mean everything in business

It was several miles before we came into a small town with a Native American name that was multiple syllables long. Finally finding a place for nourishment, I went inside and ordered my food to go. While I was waiting I asked the teenage worker behind the counter, “How do you pronounce the name of this place?”

She gave me a look that told me she felt my IQ was substantially below 70 and answered very slowly “M-a-c-D-o-n-a-l-d-s.”

I have always been fascinated with names. The more unusual they are the more I’m intrigued. Perhaps it’s because my parents gave me a unique name that in its day was often reserved for boys. Or perhaps it’s because she spelled my middle name “Leigh” instead of the traditionally Southern “Lee.”

In addition to my love of monikers, I also love a great company slogan. My all-time favorite belongs to a company in North Carolina: Johnson’s Radiator Service – A Great Place to Take a Leak.

The most head-turning belongs to a private trash collecting company in Boca Raton that also lists catering on the side of their garbage trucks. They don’t actually do catering, mind you, but everyone remembers their name! And who could forget the Smucker’s tag line, “With a name like Smucker’s it has to be good?”

I believe the creation of snappy – and memorable – slogans is a dying art. It seems to me when we get a plethora of businesses in any one industry – home health services come to mind – it gets harder and harder to differentiate between the names.

Of course business names need to reflect the products and services they represent. “The Jones Group” doesn’t tell me if they are an investment company or an ad agency. Ergo, they need a tag line of some sort to give them a sense of identity. “The Jones Group: Not Your Father’s Investment Firm” – now that gets my attention!

At our weekly Exchange networking luncheons, our local business leaders get a chance to introduce themselves and tell us a little about their business. Some have come up with some memorable tag lines. “A-Plus Air Conditioning: our prices don’t make you sweat;” “Whether a small problem or a big disaster, don’t hesitate! Call Service Master;” “When you need a home inspection, start at Square One;” or my personal favorite: “Sun City Center Howie’s Plumbing – We take c**p from everyone!”

It’s tough enough fending off the competition in these tough economic times. It’s even more difficult if your potential customers can’t pick you out of the crowd.

Am I recommending you go to the enormous expense of changing your company’s name? No. But adding a little zing with a tag line is an inexpensive way to make your company stand out.

And from now on, when I’m in passing through Chippawanahaha, Tenn., I think I’ll eat at Wendy’s. It’s easier to pronounce.

Dana Dittmar is the executive director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Names mean everything in business