What’s in a name?
Turns out, when it comes to your business, there’s a lot in a name; plenty is at stake.
Properly naming your integrative medicine enterprise is critical to your success. Careful consideration must go into this decision-making as you develop the brand ethos of your organization and define your target customers.
Get your brand name right from the very start. Following are some key areas to keep in mind as you choose your brand name—or when rebranding, which is discussed later in this post.
Name (Brand) Your Enterprise For…
Literal versus trendy. It’s best to stick with names that are memorable for recall. Though Google, Twitter, and Zillow may be successful with their funky monikers, just imagine the money invested to make them household names.
Unless your enterprise has a significant branding budget, go with literal names which are easy to remember and spell, and adequately represent what your company or organization does.
Stick with nouns—strong person/place/thing impactful nouns. In particular a geographic name can help for recall. Nouns are also easier to trademark (see below), and using geography and landmarks has the added bonus of local SEO.
Taglines can help reinforce your brand name. Keep them short. Eliminate extraneous words. Keep taking out words without changing the meaning of the tagline. And know that: if the name itself does a solid job in communicating what and who you are, a tagline may be unnecessary.
Niching is totally acceptable; your business name can reflect this. If you have a forte—a special area you occupy or aspire to occupy—build that into your name. It may seem like you are pigeonholing your scope of goods or services, but it is easier to be known for one core thing, with a reputation of being amazingly good, than to try to be known as the best for ‘everything’.
Developing a following with a strong niche almost always generates new directions and opportunities, as your good reputation and word-of-mouth takes flight.
[Handpicked Related Content: Integrative Health: Names, Nomenclature, Trends—Where We Are Headed]
Absolutely, avoid generic names. They are bland and forgettable. Though names such as ‘Integrative Medicine Center’ or ‘Healthy Woman Nutraceuticals’ may be literal and identifiable names, an incredible number of these exist across the integrative health ecosystem; we don’t need any more.
Generic names often cannot be trademarked because they are, well, too generic—or because there are 47 other organizations with similar names. Sticking with nouns and geographic landmarks are easier to trademark than more generic brand names.
The fact is, many enterprises do not bother doing a trademark search to protect their brand name through the trademark application process. This is a mistake.
A lot rides on your good name and reputation. You do not want to build a quality brand, only to allow another like-type company to rip off your name. This is guaranteed to sow confusion in the marketplace. Avoid this headache by investing a few hundred dollars to protect your brand.
Search Engine Optimization
Having a more literal brand name, especially with inclusion of a geographical landmark—your city, state, or municipality, can still help with search engine optimization (SEO). This is most helpful for local SEO, not national. Therefore, the local Aspen Functional Medicine Clinic may be more effective than Aspen Nutritionals, which markets nationally.
A tagline can also be incorporated into your brand name to include core search keywords absent from your core name. SEO aside, using a tagline to further help consumers understand your brand can be vitally important. Note: remember to keep your tagline tight—two or three words are ideal.
Shorter URLs (domain names) are better than long ones for recall. Try to choose a domain with no more than two words and roughly a dozen characters in length, while being descriptive.
Strategy: To Use or Not to Use Name as Personal Brand
If you are ‘youngish’ and practicing medicine as a solo practitioner, or an educator providing one-on-one consulting or educational courses one-to-many (think online courses, or brick and mortar classes or seminars), your personal name, in most cases, should be your brand name.
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In the case of the youngish solo practitioner who lacks the desire to build a multi-disciplinarian provider team, or add another MD down the road, it normally makes the most sense to operate under a personal name brand.
On the other hand, if the principal is looking to build a larger team by adding physicians and services, and aspires to ‘knock it out of the park’ with incredible growth, then do not use your personal name at launch.
If you do use your name, and your reputation and stature grow in prominence in your community as your patient volume takes off, every new patient will insist on seeing you—the doc with her name on the door—in clinic, not one of the other four physicians who are less busy than you, and yet are super-qualified to take good care of the patient.
Another reason not to use your personal name as your enterprise name is because the asset you are building can be sold more easily to another practitioner or management entity, when you decide to exit the business. It helps make for an easier transition.
In the case of selling your enterprise, if you have used your name as your brand, you would qualify your buyer to ensure they are a competent physician (or manager) who will take good care of your patient panel, and to make sure this person or team has the financial wherewithal to close the deal. But you cannot control the long-term reputation of how a future proprietor will run the clinic. If the clinic retains your name, the possibility exists that your name will be tarnished due to future decisions outside your control.
For other types of enterprises offering varied products and services, locally or nationally, tying in a family name or personal brand should be considered upfront.
The Wisdom Behind Rebranding
Sometimes brand names evolve because of changes in products and services offered. You may start out focused in a particular niche for your programs, courses, dietary supplement line, clinic, or media property—then, as you test the market over time, and make adjustments, focus can shift, requiring a rebranding.
Yes, your success can drive the need to rebrand. Often it is the very nature of an evolving, vibrant business that informs this change. You may have started out as a personal brand, with your name, as a ‘solopreneur’, and then decide to scale bigger, necessitating a change in name.
Depending on the specifics of your integrative health business, rebranding can be a labor-intensive and expensive proposition.
A rebranding requires, as applicable to your unique situation, a new logo, new signage and collateral across the enterprise; updating of online business directories, social media profiles, ratings sites, Google My Business, and Google Maps, redirecting your domain, editing your website’s static and fluid content, and metadata; and communicating with vendors and customers. And this just scratches the surface.
Brand Name Need Not Match Corporate Name
If you rebrand, you do not need to change the name of your corporation or legal entity. As an example, FON Consulting started as FON Therapeutics. The corporation name has always been FON Therapeutics, Inc. When FON was rebranded a few years ago, we simply used a formal d/b/a (doing business as) to keep things clean. A d/b/a trade name filing fee is about $25.
Design of Logo (Brand Mark)
There are plenty of companies out there that focus on designing logos (brand marks). I recommend using a skilled individual or brand agency to develop the aesthetic of your brand (the look and feel, color palette, typography or custom type), based on the organization’s defined brand ethos.
Your logo really is the starting point for the entire brand (website, collateral). You will use it for years; you should be incredibly happy with the way it looks. However…
Nail Your Brand Name Right Upfront
…when it comes to naming your company—another specialty, with high priced firms at the ready to do this for you—it makes the most economic sense for you, or your team, to help drive this decision.
Choosing an appropriate brand name at the start will contribute to your success and may avoid an unnecessary, time-consuming, expensive, rebranding down the road.
Do the research: ensure a thorough keyword search. Ask your community for feedback. Have a serious sit-down, and ask yourself: What’s in my name? When you’re ready, make sure the trademark is available; and invest in the design of a strong logo, tagline, and style guide, as applicable to your needs.
[If you need some additional help, ideas and inspiration, here are 25 free brand name generators.]
FON is a leading integrative health and medicine business development and strategy consulting firm. FON specializes in custom solutions for growing patient volume, developing programs, and increasing product sales. Our practical business models are driven by innovative marketing, clear messaging, and customer engagement via branded storytelling.
Contact us today to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your business development or personal brand needs.
Image credit: bigstockphoto.com/Phongphan