in a Name: It Not Only Identifies,
It Informs and Promotes
The name you give your detailing business will have a huge effect
on how the market responds to your business. To effectively name
your business, you need to know exactly what business you are in.
"That's easy," you say, "I'm in the detailing business."
But, are you? Be cautious. You do not want to limit your opportunities
for future growth by being too specific in your name.
A Name Should Be Broad...
A car wash that adds detailing to its list of services may run
into this problem. Most car washes are called just that: Speedy
Car Wash, Paul's Car Wash, Sparkle Clean Car Wash. How would consumers
know that they can purchase detailing services from these car washes?
Even detail shops that call themselves "Danny's Detail,"
"The Last Detail," or "Details, Details" are
limiting themselves by such names if they plan to offer, at some
future time, more than detail services. These could include windshield
repair, paint touchup, paintless dent repair, vinyl and leather
repair and dying, etc. Calling your business a detail shop does
not allow you to attract new clientele that would be looking for
such additional services.
You must consider the long-term potential of your company and the
ways in which it can grow in the industry. Once you have established
a name it is very difficult and expensive to change it.
... and Narrow
Your name, on the other hand, must not be so broad that you
fail to establish a clear niche for your services. Specialization
is the watchword and the companies that cater to specific market
segments are most successful. You must be specific enough to clearly
convey to customers that yours is the company they are looking for.
A more narrow name, like Danny's Detail, can be okay if you know
that you will be serving only the detail market, and do not want
to expand beyond that niche. Many restaurants have done just that.
Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken are two examples of limiting
Does It Sound Right?
Keep in mind that the name you choose will be used in a number
of ways: on your sign, in print advertising, billboards, on radio
or television. It will certainly be used verbally in word-of-mouth
exchanges among potential customers. How the name sounds, then,
is of critical importance.
When we read, we also "hear" in our minds the words we're
seeing. We respond to business names that "sound" good.
Many companies will use their family name for nothing more than
ego gratification. This is not necessarily all bad - if the name
is easy to pronounce.
Simple names tend to be more memorable than complex ones. Don't
try to get too cute; keep it simple. Also consider how the name
will look on a letterhead, and what type of logo can be designed
around the name. Don't "carve your name in stone" before
talking to a graphic designer, whose services, by the way, really
doesn't cost much.
No one can predict the future, but some consideration should be
given to the longevity of the name. Consumer perceptions change
over time. Consider the growing health concerns about eating fried
foods. It's no coincidence that Kentucky Fried Chicken has shortened
its famous name to KFC.
Bottom line: You must be somewhat forward thinking as you consider
names for your detail or cosmetic car care business. We are part
of an ever-changing industry that is trying to find its identity.
Don't name your detail shop in a vacuum. Talk to a lot of people
- friends, acquaintances, suppliers, and business associates - before
making a decision.
Keep It Legal
Avoid legal problems. Even if your name is MacDonald, you can't
put your name on a hamburger business. Before investing in a name,
you must perform the necessary due diligence to find out if it has
been registered. You must do a Federal Trademark/Service Mark search
first to be sure the name is not registered federally. A federal
registration gives the owner nationwide protection and supersedes
any state registration if it was registered before the state registration.
If the name is not registered federally, you must do a State Trademark/Service
Mark search. If there is no state registration either, you are clear
to use the name. A state registration gives protection on a statewide
It is incumbent upon you to check out a name before using it. The
owners of the trademark or service mark are expected to do their
own policing and enforcement. Filing an assumed business name is
not the same as a federal or state registration of a trademark or
service mark. Such a filing does not provide authority to use a
registered trademark or service mark. It can be expensive to do
this search, but you must do it to avoid future legal problems and
Finally, once you have chosen a name, stick with it. If you constantly
change your name, you will lose name recognition. Take time to choose
a name that you can live with and a name that will be memorable
Joe Sipowicz is technical services manager at Portland, OR-based
Detail Plus. He has been involved in the detailing industry for
nearly 20 years both as an owner/operator of detailing centers and
as a manufacturer. Joe has written on the subject of auto detailing
for over 10 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.