he name of your company, your brand name, is the first thing a person will remember about your firm. Its is the brand asset with the most longevity and it will be recalled most frequently. Like your logo, (which is the visual identifier element of your branding), your name will trigger an emotional response in your prospective clients' mind as it impresses itself upon them.
Accountancy firm names, as a whole, are extremely conservative and matter-of-fact. Our research shows that 57% of names are based on the founders' name such as GF Gibbs and Co or David Lindon and Co. A further 22.6% of firms decided to name themselves after the services they provided, for example, ‘Accountancy and Taxation Services Ltd’. That's three-quarters of accountants firms named after the founder, or the service the firm provides. Initial based names made up 6.6% of the firms we looked at. Naming your firm after the initials of your business partners, or the core services you offer, is not a recommended plan of action (not least when more effort on this front will yield better results). Why? Because people won’t remember it.
Our research showed that 57% of accountancy practice names are based on the founders' name
Geographic names such as ‘Stevenage Accountant’ made up just 1% of the accountancy firms we looked at. This may be because most accountancy firms had aspirations of serving clients outside of their hometown, or even down to domain availability, but this approach, out of the six naming categories we looked at, was the least popular.
When you add these statistics on naming together we find that 86% of accountants names themselves after their founder, their initials or what they do. While this isn’t an error of naming judgement per-say, it does lack imagination and has zero ‘wow factor’ for the prospective client. These approaches to naming offer the reader little in the way of memorability, emotion resonance and neither do they communicate or convey any brand values. They’re samey, lacklustre and in all honesty rather boring…
This leaves two other approaches to naming; inventive names and evocative names. There is some cross-over in these approaches, but broadly we defined these as follows:
Inventive names: Names that were fun, interesting and/or combined words to form a new word. Examples we found in our research included Auditax and Smart Counts. Examples of common inventive brands include PayPal (which is far better than PayOnline right?)
Evocative names: Evocative names tended to be less literal. Examples we found included Lucentum and Numbercloud. Evocative names can allude to a quality, expectation or service you provide. Common evocative brand names include Kickstarter, Amazon and Patagonia
In the mind of your prospect its evokes imagery, sparks imagination, inspires and suggests a world of possibilities… To put it another way, it forms an impression and helps to communicate your brand values. It tells the prospect about your company and helps them form an idea of what they can expect from you.
We found that accountancy firms that did decide to begin their branding with a memorable and interesting approach to naming, had, in almost every case, more interesting brands and websites as a whole. This is because an evocative name forms the bedrock for emotional resonance to be built upon. They allow for more interesting visual scope in developing brand identity systems and they can be used as a vehicle to better present brand values.
Take the examples of Lucentum with their bold colour palette and bespoke illustrations throughout their website (disclaimer: we designed their website but not their initial branding or name). Another example; Zyla, a short, pleasing name to hear (and say) created from the last and first letters of the founders' names. These are two accountants we’ve worked with who strived from the outset to differentiate themselves and succeeded in the very first step, providing a strong platform in their brand name for their brand assets to evolve from.
Let us assume that you’re rebranding your firm and you’d like to modernise the name (we’ll pretend you’re currently named JFT Taxation and Accountancy Services Ltd). Here are some considerations when choosing a new name:
Your company name is vitally important, it will be the longest-serving element of your brand and the part of your brand recalled most often, passed on in written and verbal referrals. Done right it will suggest the positive qualities of your brand, inspire confidence in your company and be remembered by those that hear it.
At Prosper we’ve helped forward-thinking accountants and tax consultants in the UK and abroad develop their naming. If you’re looking to re-brand your current firm and you’d like to discuss naming with us then get in touch via our website.
Written by Ben Stanbury
Ben is a branding and naming consultant and the owner of Prosper. He writes regularly for the Prosper blog, on the topic of branding, naming and differentiation for professional service firms. He is a contributor to the Entigrity blog, and has conducted research into the branding and naming trends for accountants and CPAs in the UK and the USA