Prosper Agency
June 9, 2020

How to choose a name for your accountancy practice

Many accountancy practice names lack imagination and memorability. This article explores why it's important to select a 'good' name for your firm, one that does more than just say what you do, or tells people what your name is...

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Branding
T

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. 

How do accountants currently approach naming?

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 shoed 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

What happens when you choose an evocative or an interesting name? 

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. 

What should accountants consider when naming their firms? 

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: 

7 pointers to select a good name for your accountancy practice:

  1. Is is meaningful? Does it convey something about the essence of your brand and does it fit with the image you’re trying to project? 
  2. Is it memorable? Would you new name stand out and be recalled among the names of your competitors? Avoid too many syllables, (a maximum of four ideally)
  3. Is is it easy to spell? Avoid ‘clever’ spellings of words, such as adding unnecessary letters, removing letters, or even reversing letters. Do not be tempted to add a numeral to your name such as accountants4you. If you make one of these mistakes you will be forced to spell out your name during every phone-call with a new supplier or prospect. This will become tiresome.
  4. Does it have a smile factor when you say it? While your name does not, and should not, be drenched in levity, (we understand that you’re offering professional services after all), a little imagination goes a long way. A smile factor does not mean your name should be goofy, but interesting or clever. A name that provokes a smile or a nod will be remembered and speaks volumes about your company. If people like to say it aloud, if it has a pleasing sound and 'feel' then this will work in your favour. 
  5. Does it facilitate future growth? Can you model service names around it? Does it lend itself to future business expansion and the addition of staff?
  6. Defendable? Does it have a domain name available, - don’t forget to look at top-level domains. Carry out proper checks with Companies House and other relevant trade bodies and of course speak to a trademark lawyer if you need to… 
  7. Is it visual? Does it lend itself to interesting design concepts and presentation? We see a link between interesting names and better branding… get this right first and it will pay dividends in years to come… 

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. 


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