There’s this little company in Lakeland, Fla. It sells printers and copiers. It offers document management. It’s been around for 86 years.
And its name is Boring Business Systems.
Yes, yes, we get it. They’re not implying that their sales pitches are sure-fire sleep aids. It’s the name of the owner, of course. But get this — until 1973, the company was named Lakeland Typewriter and Supply. They actually slapped the Boring name on the letterhead after nearly five decades in business.
Clearly, the name works because, all giggles aside, it’s memorable. And BBS must be offering solid service to have lasted for more than eight decades. As for the name, BBS embraces the goofiness. The company logo has a happy face in the “g.” And its tagline is, “Wouldn’t you rather be Boring?”
Does an eyebrow-raising or giggle-inducing name boost a business’ profile or increase its clientele? Jeremy Levitt, co-founder of Australia’s ServiceSeeking,com.au, says small businesses that make a bold statement with their name are better placed to win work. “Those with a unique name stand out from their competition, and customers are more likely to remember them.”
Levitt’s online marketplace surveyed the 26,000 firms registered with it and created a top 10 for unusual names. No. 1? Men Behaving Handy, a Perth-based home repair and maintenance outfit. Others in the top 10: Great Lay Tiling, Getting to Mow You and Bzzzt Electrical Services.
Beyond the ServiceSeeking.au list, here are some other examples of eye-catching business names in Australia and elsewhere:
Hard Wok Cafe: a Chinese takeout restaurant in Melbourne.
Know Knew Books: a store for used books in Palo Alto, California.
Den of Antiquities: an antiques shop in Yarra Glen, Victoria.
Dirty Dogs Done Dirt Cheap: a pet grooming service in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Salt and Battery: a fish-and-chips joint in Brisbane.
And … wait for it … Hung Far Low, a now-defunct Chinese restaurant that was a local legend in Portland, Oregon. Its name was a mangled Anglisation of the Mandarin Hong Hua Lin. Even though the menu was reportedly pedestrian, the bar served strong stuff. And no doubt many patrons were drawn through the doors simply by bemused curiosity.
But is that enough? Hardly, Levitt says. “It’s good to steer away from run-of-the-mill names, but you still need your name to relate to the service or product you’re offering.” And, of course, he adds, “while a creative business name can make a great first impression, small-business longevity relies on quality service.”
Image by Pink Sherbet Photography