7 unforgettable biz names helping companies succeed

They name to conquer ...

A BigAssFans mural in Lexington, Kentucky.
Source: BigAssFans

Often, a customer's first impression is derived straight from a business' name. In fact, the company name can be its most powerful marketing tool. Dull and vague and patrons will walk, drive or scroll right by. Unique and unforgettable and customers will take notice, share it on social media, and even proudly don the company T-shirt.

Take Big Ass Fans.

This home technology company, initially called the HVLS Fan Co. — for High Volume, Low Speed — made their mark in 1999, selling massive ceiling fans for huge spaces, such as warehouses and dairy barns. After a few years the company took a bold leap, changing its name to Big Ass Fans after customers kept calling and asking if they were the ones who made "those big-ass fans."

Its cool name paid off: Since opening its doors the company has grown to more than 900 employees and is on track to exceed $300 million in revenue for 2016.

"Our company name tells people: We're bold, we're direct, and we're contrarian. In the end, that's what a name should do," said Carey Smith, founder and Chief Big Ass.

Shocking, hilarious or outrageously clever, here are some other businesses names that are so memorable, they stand out from the crowd.

— By Barbara Booth, CNBC.com
Posted 15 April 2016

Ash Wipe Chimney Sweeps

Source: Ash Wipe Chimney Sweeps

Ross Reed came up with the name of his Lincolnshire, Illinois, chimney cleaning and repair service in 1981 while sitting in a bar with his buddies. They had a good laugh about it — then were stunned when Reed said he was going to use the name for his business. "They said, 'No way,' and I said, "Watch me,'" he said.

Thirty-four years later Reed says he is busier than ever. "People use me because of the name," he said, adding that he was even able to secure the phone number 1-800-ASH-WIPE.

People find the name of his business so funny that in 2006 someone stole his sign. "I don't know how he did it," Reed said. "There were 25 steel nuts and bolts. He didn't get caught, but he left all his tools in my front yard."

Back to the Fuchsia

Back to the Fuchsia, a flower shop in Saugatuck, Michigan. Logo design by Lisa Shimko.
Source: Back to the Fuchsia

Even though Jeanne Smiczek's flower shop is one block off the main street, she said the location hasn't hurt business. "The name stops people," she said, and they tell others. "People search me out."

Smiczek says she had dreamed of owning a flower shop since she was 13 years old. Three years before she opened her store in the small coastal town of Saugatuck, in Michigan, she had her Aha moment when she came up with the name. "I like funny things," she said. "I would love to deliver the flowers in a DeLorean, but I guess that wouldn't be too practical."

Now in her sixth season, Smiczek has seen her sales grow, on average, 40 percent year-over-year. A big push comes from the floral wire services, such as Teleflora, that connects customers to local florists. In the "special instructions" from a wire service she received just this week: "OK, Your store name is Freaking Awesome! Love it!!!"

Tequila Mockingbird

Source: Tequila Mockingbird

Dale Jerns opened his Mexican restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland, in 1998, basing the name on his favorite book, "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. "My wife is an English teacher, and we came up with the name together," he said. Dale's brother and partner, Dave, also a Lee fan, named his daughter Harper.

Inside the festive bar and grill — which features more than 100 types of tequila — hangs a large poster of the cover of the 1960 classic. "We hung it up because there are actually some people who don't get the name," said Dale. Nevertheless, "it has helped us sell a lot of paraphernalia," he said.

Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors

Source: Boxwell Brothers

Perhaps the funniest thing about the name of this Amarillo, Texas, funeral home is that there is no marketing aim behind it at all: The family who owns the thriving business is, actually, the Boxwells.

"It's more of an irony than the picking of a great and memorable name," said Bart Boxwell, who with eight other male family members, from cousins to uncles, run the family-owned funeral home.

"The name has made us fairly well known. We've even been featured on 'Ripley's Believe It or Not.' It's always been a little humorous," he said.

Let's Get Stoned

Let's Get Stoned, Warrington, Pennsylvania
Source: Lets Get Stoned

Founder and president Kirk Raysky says the idea for the name of his 15-year-old Warrington, Pennsylvania, natural stone products company came from a friend. "I wanted to pick a name that related to Greek mythology, like Acropolis," he said. "But then one of my friends suggested Let's Get Stoned. It's definitely out of the box — the idea being that we are not some run-of-the-mill granite place. We needed to stand out in the Philadelphia metro area."

Raysky says that while most people find it humorous, "we do get mixed reactions." But overall, he firmly believes the name is one of the reasons his business is so successful. "Before people would know our work, they would know our name," he said. "We are a neighborhood landmark. For branding and marketing, it's the best thing we ever did," Raysky said. "At least once a week we get a request for a T-shirt."

Let's Get Stoned has grown from three employees to more than two dozen since its doors opened in 2001.

Vinyl Resting Place

Source: Faulkner Short

After retiring from a career in public radio in Juno, Alaska, husband-and-wife team Patsy Smith and Toby Tobiason opened up this vintage record shop in Portland, Oregon. Twenty years later Vinyl Resting Place, which specializes in blues, jazz, folk albums and 45s, is thriving. Quite a feat for an industry that just recently made a comeback after nearly disappearing in the early 2000s.

"People pass along our name to their friends with a chuckle, and that goodwill translates to growing sales," said Tobiason. "Last year was our best ever, and this year's figures show we're nearly 10 percent ahead of last year."

He credits his wife for coming up with the name. "People love it. We do very little advertising, because the name is so memorable. Except sometimes we do get a few who come in looking for burial services."

Tips to game the right name

Peshkova | Getty Images

Launching your own business but struggling to come up with the ideal name that is memorable? Here are a few things to keep in mind to set you on the right path:

  1. Understand fully what you wish to communicate. A powerful name should not only accurately convey what the service or product is but portray the company culture as well.
  2. Come up with a name consumers can relate to. While initials and numbers are easy to spell and say, the meaning is unclear.
  3. Say the name out loud. The name needs to sound good when you say it. The power of alliteration has worked for some of the most iconic companies. Think Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme and Coca-Cola.
  4. Don't make it complicated. Complicated names are easy to forget, which means customers will be hard-put to recommend you.
  5. Do a domain search. Be sure your business name is unique and available so you can claim a website address or URL. You can easily check on the WHOIS database.
  6. Make sure the name is legal. Free resources such as Trademarkia and USPTO.gov can help you prescreen to find out if a name is already patented.