Like it or not, we all have preferences, misconceptions and preconceived ideas about names. Whether it’s people, suburbs, businesses or brands in their own right, we place a lot weight on a name. When the new Yellow Pages arrived on the weekend, I got to thinking about what an aged medium it is. And how all those companies who had specifically named their business in order to appear in the front of each section were faring in the age of Google and online search. The Yellow Pages wouldn’t be my first port of call to find an IT reseller, but it did get me thinking about naming conventions in the industry.
While you don’t see AAAA Auckland IT Resellers appearing, the industry has certainly conformed in many cases to fads and other naming conventions. The three-letter acronym has been popular, as has truncating words, applying novel spelling and symbols and joining words together. And lest we forget the appendage of “Solutions” to any number of eloquent and meaningful words; think Certus Solutions, Oxygen Business Solutions and Solnet Solutions (formerly SolNet Solutions).
So, what’s in a name? There are many things that sit behind the name... reputation, capability, size and scale. But strictly speaking, first impressions are critical. That initial gut reaction will come down to the name. With people and suburbs there are good connotations and bad, based on personal experience. Business and brand names are often affected by others’ opinions or recommendations. The name you know, the one that comes with a reputation, the one that can be vouched for is often the one you’ll go for.
A name is not the be-all and end-all, but it will have an impact. You will have to work that much harder for the market to see every other element you get right; service, reputation, delivery etc. It’s not called “marketing” for no reason. The catchy names, the well presented websites all provide a business advantage.
Branding in IT — particularly in the channel, is a curious beast. Being practical and entirely pragmatic; branding is not high on the priority list when resellers lay plans to establish a business and launch themselves upon the market. Competition, market share and market opportunity are all carefully reviewed and assessed. It seems that owner-operators (as is often the case) are typically from a more technical background and so staffing, premises and client-base are all made priorities. But vast amounts of money aren’t spent with brand consultants and designers to come up with the perfect outward symbol of the emerging company.
Whether by design or by default, there have been a number of extremely well executed reseller brands — and there have been a number that went the other way. Those that have had the opportunity to rebrand have often been left in a much better position brand-wise. While rebranding always remains an option, this is a hugely expensive and time consuming exercise, particularly for businesses of any scale.
So my advice to those planning an entry into the market is to think very carefully about your name and brand. Money spent on advice can be money well spent. Your brand will be with you for a long time and will play an important role in making (if not breaking) your business.