Article Date: 3/1/2007

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What’s in a Name?
That which we call an optometric practice by any other name would still be an O.D.’s practice!


What if 10 years ago I described a business that, using a computer, would be able to electronically find you a wealth of information on “any topic you could think of”? If I told you the name of that business would be called, “The Ultimate Electronic Information Finder,” would you prefer that to “Google” or “Yahoo?” Or, what if at that same point in time I offered to sell you a $2 bottle of water called Dasani or a very expensive car named Lexus?
The point? Some of the strongest brands on Earth don’t mention their product or service in their names. Starbucks and Apple don’t say anything to the prospective purchaser about coffee or computers.
Does that mean you shouldn’t put any thought into naming your practice if you’re just starting out or considering changing the name? No. But you have to approach the exercise logically. Short of hiring a professional marketing/branding company and paying tens of thousands of dollars, here’s a technique we use with clients that’s proven very effective.

How’s your vision?
The vision of your enterprise, that is. What does your vision of your future-perfect-practice look like to you? What will you do to make it that way? Record those thoughts in a document about a paragraph long. Make sure there’s no fluff, and get down to the matter at hand. “We provide excellent optometric services,” won’t work here. Be very precise and pointed in your description.
Once you have your paragraph hammered out, force yourself to come up with related names or words, nonsensical or not, that embody what you’ve written. If you become stuck on this exercise, enlist the help of staff, family and friends. One of our clients even held a contest among his patients.
From this exercise you’ll think of a handful of name candidates. The next step is to put together a list of model patients and have them vote on your list. A model patient for you could be the patient who genuinely values your services, those who pay on time, pay cash, never miss appointments or possess anything else you deem important.

Things not to stress about
It’s widely written that using your name in your practice — “Dr. Bill’s Eye Wear Factory” — is a bad idea. It’s postulated that using your name limits potential expansion and the future sale of the business. Still, I think “Dr. Stanley Pearle” and “Bausch & Lomb” would take exception to that thought, as would many other large and successful regional chains and companies.
Using a regionally anchored name like, “Main Street Vision Care” might not work if you decide to move to Elm Street. So, be careful there. However, many strongly branded companies have dodged this potential bullet too. The New York Giants play football in New Jersey, and California Pizza Kitchen has a great restaurant in New Jersey. View your practice brand as a huge empty well. Into that well go your personality, your practice’s personality, the way you do business, your reputation and everything else that defines your practice. Once the well is filled, you can call its contents whatever you’d like. The contents are constant so the name becomes less meaningful.
Bottom line: Spend less time worrying about what to call your practice and more time strengthening your unique brand. Of course, after you choose your name and you want to see if it’s available, you can look on the “Ultimate Search Engine,” or “Google” it!


Optometric Management, Issue: March 2007