Welcome back, everyone! This week’s post is inspired by a reader, Danielle of the blog Acupuncture Flow. Danielle is a third-year acupuncture student at Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture, and she asked how to choose a great name for her future acupuncture practice.
Choosing a business name is an important process. The name you choose will (hopefully) be with you a long time, and it says a lot about you. It’s the first impression people get about your business, and it’s part of what determines if a patient will call you for an appointment.
Because your business name is so important, I’d like to remind everyone that I’m not a marketing professional. The following is simply helpful advice that I want to share with you. It’s a good idea to get help with the process of choosing a name for any business. Get professional marketing assistance if you think you need it.
That said, I have three awesome lists full of advice on choosing an acupuncture practice name:
1. Five Tips for the Process of Choosing an Acupuncture Practice Name (See below)
2. Seven Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an Acupuncture Practice Name (See below)
Today, we’ll talk about the first two lists, about the Process and the Seven Mistakes to Avoid. Stay tuned next post for list number three: The Three Types of Acupuncture Practice Names: Pros and Cons.
Plus, don’t forget to download the free 6-page workbook to help you name your practice.
Naming Your Acupuncture Practice Brainstorming Workbook:
Five Tips for the Process of Choosing an Acupuncture Business Name:
- Take your time. Don’t wait until you’re a week away from graduating , when the pressure might make you choose a name out of desperation.
- Brainstorm with different groups of friends. If you have marketing friends, get their suggestions, for sure.
- Use a thesaurus to find similar words to the ones that you already like, for variety in your brainstorming.
- Ask as many people as possible about your top two or three names, to help you make a wise choice. Again, asking a variety of people is important, to weed out the bad advice.
- Find out the names of all the acupuncture businesses in a 300-mile radius, at least, to avoid duplication. Or farther. See my experience with “Ageless Acupuncture,” below.
As for what to avoid, you might initially think that these seem obvious. But then, think for a few minutes about all the confusing, nonsensical, or just plain bad business names out there. Yeah.
7 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an Acupuncture Practice Name:
- Chinese words or symbols
- References to needles
- Your full name as your business name
- Anything hard to pronounce or spell
- Anything confusing
- Names that don’t make it clear what service you provide
- Names already used by others (or that are very similar to others)
1. Don’t use Chinese words or symbols in your name:
A. People like situations that are familiar to them. Comfortable. Acupuncture is already a “foreign” enough concept. It’s from another country, many people aren’t sure if it will work, and it uses needles. With all these difficulties stacked up against us already, why worsen the issue by choosing an name that emphasizes its unfamiliarity?
B. Sometimes the use of Chinese words in your business name is, to quote a good friend of mine, “cheesy and woo-woo.” Yes, I said it. CHEESY AND WOO-WOO. Is that the image you want your business to project?
C. Not being able to pronounce something is embarrassing. Most Americans, unfortunately, don’t speak Chinese, nor can they pronounce Pinyin. Have you ever gone to a restaurant where the menu items are in another language or have strange names? Didn’t you feel embarrassed trying to ask for the “Quattro Formaggi Pizza?” Wouldn’t it have been more comfortable to just ask for four-cheese pizza?
D. Let me emphasize, because I know some of you are tempted: DO NOT USE THE WORD QI IN YOUR BUSINESS NAME. THE AVERAGE AMERICAN DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE THE WORD “QI.” And they don’t want to try to pronounce it, either. It’s embarrassing for them! AND, people don’t know what you’re talking about.
2. No needle references:
This one should seem obvious. Most people’s primary, initial objection to acupuncture is about the needles. They’re worried about them because they don’t know how thin they are. Don’t make your potential patients think about sharp objects before they even get the chance to call your office. It’s a turn-off.
3. Using your full name as your business name:
Using your full name as your business name (i.e., Karen Smith, Licensed Acupuncturist) is not terribly professional. It makes your business seem unestablished, which does not inspire confidence.
Established clinics (theoretically, in the minds of potential patients) means more reliable, higher-quality care and more years in business. You may be a one-man show, and that’s okay. But you don’t necessarily want potential patients to know this before they even get to your office.
Ask yourself the following question right now, and go with your gut feeling: Which name implies a more established clinic? “Julie Abbot, Licensed Acupuncturist,” or “Binghamton Family Acupuncture?”
4. Anything hard to pronounce or spell:
A. As we discussed in tip number one, it’s embarrassing to try to pronounce unfamiliar or difficult words. This applies to words from any language, including English.
B. It’s also hard to remember words that are hard to pronounce or spell. This makes it pretty hard for people to refer to you, right? If I can’t remember it, spell it, or pronounce it, I may be less likely to tell people about your business. Don’t create a barrier between you and an easy referral!
C. If a patient can’t remember or easily spell your business name, it’s going to be hard to find your business on the internet. And in today’s search-engine driven world, this can really impair your business’s ability to grow.
(More on the topic of making your business name search-engine friendly in the next post.)
The only time I think it’s okay to use a word that’s hard to spell or pronounce is when it’s the name of the town or city you live in. Outsiders may have a hard time saying it, or remembering how on earth to spell it, but people who live there are already familiar with it.
What if your last name is hard to spell or pronounce? In that case, I would avoid using it. Again, people need to remember how to spell it, and be comfortable pronouncing it. (More on using your last name in your business name in the next post.)
5. Anything confusing:
We’ve all seen business names that just leave us scratching our heads. “Why did they pick that name?” we wonder. “What does it mean?” Confusing names are unprofessional. Avoid names that only have meaning to you. You may think a name represents your brand or your purpose, but test it out on a wide variety of people to make sure it also makes sense to them.
Example: There’s a funeral home near my apartment called “New Comer Funeral Home.” New Comer? I always wonder, is that some kind of play on words, about the fact that all who are dead, are “new comers” to being dead? Seems like a weird reference. Or is it a last name? Was it two people’s last names that they combined in an awkward way? Regardless of the answer, I shouldn’t have to be asking all these questions about a business’s name. It should simply make sense to a wide audience.
Finally, avoid confusion about what services your business offers. See #6, below.
6. Names that don’t make it clear what service you provide:
I highly recommend using the word “acupuncture” in your business name. A person should be able to read your business name and immediately know what you do.
You could call your business “Syracuse Wellness” and then when people call, explain what services you offer. OR, you could avoid that question altogether, and make better use of everyone’s time, by having your name be “Syracuse Acupuncture.” There, no questions needed. You do acupuncture. In Syracuse. Now people who are looking for acupuncture in Syracuse know you’re the place they should be. The End.
Also, you want people searching on the internet for “acupuncture” to be able to find you, yes?
7. Names already used by others (or that are very similar to others)
I feel like this only happens when you don’t do your due diligence, or (like me), you ignore good advice. It’s suggestion number five in my list above, Five Tips for the Process of Choosing an Acupuncture Business Name.
You need to research all the acupuncturists in at least a 300 mile radius of your practice to see what names everyone else is using. 300 miles, at least. I used to have the business name “Ageless Acupuncture & Wellness,” and I chose to use it even though a dozen other acupuncturists use some variation of “Ageless Acupuncture.” There was an Ageless Acupuncture in Albany (roughly 300 miles away) that came up before mine in the Google search. This was pretty confusing for patients trying to find me if they forgot my address, for example!
And of course, you can’t use the same exact name that someone else already has. You don’t know what kind of copyrights they have on that name, and you don’t want to infringe on them.
Still need help? No problem. Download your free 6-page workbook to help you name your practice.
Naming Your Acupuncture Practice Brainstorming Workbook:
Looking for more advice on how to choose a name for your business? Check out these helpful articles:
3. To convince you not to choose something too similar to a neighbor’s name: Entrepreneur.com: “When Business Names Confuse Consumers: The Basics of Trademark Law”
3. About.com Small Business Information: The Ten Commandments of a Great Business Name (Although I disagree with #6 on this one, for sure.)
Have advice on choosing an acupuncture practice name? Share with us in the comments!