Peter Howard

Someone said 'consultant' is a bit wishy washy these days. Thoughts?

I am starting a consultancy service (education) and looking for a name. Was going to call it my current business name Education Consultants or Consultancy.

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2 Answers

Steve Osborne

Steve Osborne , director at Smarthinking

Peter

Business naming is a perpetually interesting subject. There are as many different approaches as there are different kinds of names. And there are many traps for young players. Seeking professional advice can often mean the difference between great and merely functional.

As someone who has devised many new business names and tag-lines, I recommend you start by deciding what you want the new name to do for you. To make that decision, you need to understand the possiblities. Amongst many things, a great name can:

achieve separation from your competitors
demonstrate to the world that you are different
reinforce a unique positioning platform
create positive and lasting engagement with your audience
be unforgettable

Sometimes described as a one word commercial, a name engages and persuades. But not all names are equal. A great name:

communicates the strategy
is easy to use
fits your existing nomenclature
is ownable

Altho' successful names may appear to have been created by magic, it is possible to develop names that are dynamic and effective if you have the right process in place.

Professionally, I use a 6 Step Naming Guide process with clients. And if you couldn't already tell, naming is for me one of the most enjoyable parts of marketing.

I work with 4 major categories of names. Deciding which is right for you involves a number of preliminary steps.

1 Functional/Descriptive

These work best when the business names its products and the strategy is to direct the bulk of the recognition to the company name e.g. BMW, Subway, Ikea

They work worst when they are company names. A descriptive company name is asked to perform just one task – explain to the world the business you are in. It's an unnecessary and counterproductive choice.

2 Invented

A. Names built on Greek or Latin roots; B. poetically constructed names based on rhythm and the experience of saying them

A examples: Acquaint, Agilent, Allianz, Aquent. These are good because they sound serious and are free from negative connotations. Not so good because there is no direct message and they can sound a bit cold and aloof.

B examples: Google, KitKat, Kleenex. Easy to say, use and acquire. Lots of potential marketing energy, memorable and emotionally engaging. Tough to be taken seriously in a professional services environment.

3 Experiential

A direct connection to something real, a direct experience. On the upside, these names rise above the descriptive because their message is more about the experience than the task.

Experiential web portal product name examples: Safari, Explorer, Navigator

The downside is that they are over-used. Note that the same three web portal examples above are also names of SUVs.

4 Evocative

Differs from the others in that they evoke the positioning of the service, rather than describing a function or a direct experience.

Examples of airlines: QANTAS – functional; UNITED – experiential; VIRGIN – positioning (evocative)

Powerful differentiators and deeply engaging, but hard to get right. If created out of sync with business positioning, can be an ugly mess.

I won't go on. There's the better part of a decent article here already!

Suffice it to say, if you go down the DIY route, begin by thinking about the desired business structure. Are you always going to be a solo practitioner, or will the business expand to employ others?

If the former, it's perfectly acceptable to use your own name plus a descriptor: Peter Howard, Education Consultant. Unfortunately, this functional approach asks as many questions as it answers.

What kind of education – pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary?
What kind of audience – individual students, groups, classrooms, teaching staff?
What kind of consultant – active, passive, advisory, implementer?

The answer to these questions is found here: consider the result you achieve. How has the life of your client been enriched? What do you leave behind after you go?

It's not about what you DO, it's about what they GET.

When you know what's of greatest importance to your client, you'll know the kind of name best suited for you.

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Jennifer Lancaster

Jennifer Lancaster , Owner at I Want That CRM

You could use Specialists instead!

add Adult if target market is adults. ie Adult Education Specialists.

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