Tool #15 Pay Attention to Names

In last week's post, Tool #14: Get the Name of the Dog, I explained why it's essential to pay attention to the minor details. These details could end up being the most critical, eye-catching opportunity for your consumers. Roy Peter Clark, in his book, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, gives a what he calls, "a sweet literary addiction." He explains that paying attention to names isn't so much a tool, but a way to attract the writer and reader.

I have to admit that unusual names pique my interest, more so than I thought until I read this chapter. Today's "tool" may be used to inspire a company name, which in turn could generate a great slogan. It is also a technique to help you remember people's names and perhaps find a way to make a deeper connection with your customers through the skillful method of talking about their name. After all, people love to hear about themselves positively so always pay attention to the power of a good name!

What's in a Name?

In one of the world's most famous plays, Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare's Juliet cries:

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet..."

But, I have to contest Juliet on this one. Not all names "smell as sweet." Here I am referring to the memorability of a name, not so much in the meaning behind it--or in Juliet's case, the forbidden fruit of it. Clark gives us some literary characters whose names reign supreme in our minds:

Places Have Names, Too!

Clark tells us that writers tend to "gravitate toward stories that take place in towns with interesting names." So I ask you to think about this: where do you live? Where do the majority of your consumers live? What can you glean from the places of these names? Try not to stereotype the location--I think we all tend to do this from time-to-time. Instead, think about the actual title. Is there some history behind it? How can you relate the location of the name to the person living in it? Do this, and you in turn, again, will get to know your consumers better and provide them with a service, unlike any other company does.

Explore Names

This week, have a little fun! Open up a telephone book (if they still even make those...?) or do a google search, or browse the names of your Facebook friends: pick eight names that you find interesting. Now, think about how you could market to these people based on their names. What could you say to them that allows them to talk about themselves in a way that no other salesperson has before? This technique should help you get familiar with cold calls, too--which I find to be very nerve-racking! Allow yourself to prepare and be amazed by the results.

Business Names

Finally, I want to touch on business names because, well, that's what we are, right? When I was coming up with a name for my business, I thought long and hard about capturing the essence of what I do. I've always loved to write, and I can't, for the life of me, write with my left hand. When I do, it looks like a preschooler wrote it.

I am a right-side dominant person. With that, I started to think about slogans and how I could convince people to trust my services. It just came to me: "Put your content in the right hands..." Oh! Right-Handed Writing! I ran with it, using a feather as part of my logo because I grew up collecting feathers as a kid, and turning them into pens.

For a customer of mine, Crystal Cleaning Janitorial Services, he already had his logo when we met, but I had to help him with a catchy tag line. I wanted to create something short, sweet, and to the point. We went back and forth with a lot of different ideas, but then one came to me as I was working on some door hangers for him. I used his name and his logo to come up with: "We put the crystal in clean!" The tag also has that SEO kicking--with two keywords in a six-word tag line.

So What's in Your Business Name?

Like I mentioned earlier, get creative today! Have fun playing around with all the names in your life, from your family's and friend's to the place you live, to the business you run or work. Need help coming up with some strategies to better serve your customers? Schedule a free consultation with me today!


Clark, R. P. (2008). Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. Columbus, GA: Little, Brown.

Romeo and Juliet: Entire Play. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Right-Handed Writing 

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