Your company’s name is its ultimate first impression.

As it turns out, who you say you say a lot about who people think you are.

After all, which brand is more intriguing? Aegis Solutions, a company with an arcane, hard-to-spell or pronounce name or Blue Halo? A slightly dated Quantitech or Axient?

In the competitive pool of hundreds of thousands of federal contractors, your name is your first opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Early on, it’s an opportunity most companies miss, settling for a bland description of the company or an assortment of initials. 

They’re conventions so familiar, they simply make your business feel smaller than it is. If you have a name like any other business, you’ll be perceived like any other business.

And while brands themselves do not win or lose work, or attract investment or employees, they certainly make all three easier or harder.

Why You Should Consider Rebranding

A corporate brand is the professional veneer that creates interest, conveys excitement, and sets you apart as something different, something special. As a growing company, it is among the best investments you can make for brand perception.

It lets you play bigger. 

Brand to be the company you want. The names that are initialisms, descriptions, or dated names (say, as a general rule, anything with ‘Net’ as a suffix or ‘e’ as a prefix.) make companies seem like an also-ran.  They generate less brand equity as the names themselves are simply forgettable. Any three letters will mostly sound like any other. An IT Solutions Company and an Agile Technologies Incorporated do little to stand out from the thousands of other companies selling a concept as broad as “IT” or who have agility in their win themes. 

Break free from the convention. What sounds bigger? Integrity Applications Incorporated or Centauri?

It sets a feel for your company like nothing else. 

Bland descriptions and initialisms simply create the stuffy feel of an also-ran federal contractor, of rows of dingy cubicles and coffee-stained cost volumes. Bold names start your brand story with the feeling you choose. Be bold and expeditionary like TorchLight or approachable and expert like Tria. Brand for excellence with Stellant. Lead the feeling you want to convey, the sense of what it’s like to work with you, not a description of who you are.

Employees, customers, and teammates all make snap decisions.

As a federal contractor, you are one of many. And while a brand itself may never win or lose your business, it will help your impression and inclusion into downselects. It’s not just customers, either. It’s the teammates who will be intrigued by your brand story, the candidates who will have their corporate name as a part of their identity, and the full ecosystem of your programs who will see it on lanyards, PowerPoints, and desk toys. Your brand may be forgotten if you do it wrong, but it will never be anonymous. Work with a name that starts your brand conversation on your terms.

How to Choose a Brand Name

With the size of the competitive landscape, choosing a brand name is never as simple as picking a word you like. Which is fine. Competition forces us to think harder, to find more compelling ways into our brand story.

Pick a Name That Intrigues

Above all, start with a name that draws an eyebrow raise. Maybe it’s a creative spelling or a combination of two words that aren’t typically used together. Perhaps it’s a word that borrows on a literary allusion or combines roots from Greek or Latin to create a new word with a good brand story. Whatever you choose, be sure it catches your attention. As an exercise, take your potential name and put it in a list of awardees for a recent ID/IQ. See if catches your eye.

Pick a Name That Leads Into Your Brand Story

But don’t tell your full brand story. Limiting yourself by capability or even category can cause problems down the road. Moreover, it can be marketing thought-ender. As marketers, we thrive on the tension created by wanting to know the rest of the story. Pick a name that begins to tell the story but doesn’t complete the idea. Blue Halo tells a story that relates to its protective capabilities in space and air.

After all, marketing is a practice of creating demand, not providing all the answers. 

Spelling or Pronunciation: Choose At Least One

While the largest federal contractor in existence breaks this one, as a general rule, get creative, not complex. Be sure your name is either easy to pronounce when you see it or easy to spell when you hear it. Otherwise, you’re asking a lot of those you want to reach … and you.  And if we opt for creative spelling at Bluetext, we stick to a one-change limit per brand name.  

Avoid Dated or Extraneous Additions

Brand names, like fashion and music, are constantly changing. Companies now with -Net extensions sound like remnants of the late 90s. We’ve avoided Cyber in names as it is likely headed for a similar fate as the practice of “cybersecurity” is just as wide as “information technology” is now. Extraneous modifiers (Services, solutions, group, or the most bothersome, Incorporated), which often are added to appease the trademark lawyers, just ask potential customers and employees to remember more to build brand equity. Focus on your brand name as much as possible.

Pick What You Love, Not What You Dislike the Least

There is nothing inevitable about a brand. There is no inherent magic in the name Facebook that the name MySpace didn’t also provide. Brands are what you make of them. For every brand, there is an objection to it. Sony was once a made-up word, Nike once an obscure allusion, and Apple a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Find something you love and build around it aggressively.

Because what you’re called will define you like nothing else.