Sunday, July 10, 2016

Shakespeare Sez

Although I’m an avid reader, I have yet to tackle the complete works of William Shakespeare.  I’ve enjoyed reading several of his plays and have seen a number of theatrical performances over the years. One of my favorite lines is from “Romeo and Juliet”:  “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  

But when it comes to names, whether it’s the name of your business, an event, the title of a novel or short story, or your character names, I have to disagree with the Bard. Names have always been important to me. My own name is odd and great fodder for a joke or two but hopefully it’s memorable.  

In addition to my full time job, I also teach a business class at the local college for people interested in becoming entrepreneurs. One of the topics we cover early in the semester is what you’re going to call the company you create. It needs to be memorable. Preferably something short and to the point. It needs to have some reference to what your business is all about, so people seeing the name will make an instantaneous connection. Or close to it.

For example, this summer I’ve participated in two events. One was the Ann Arbor Book Festival.  Very distinctive. You knew where it was and what it was about. This was a very successful endeavor that drew a lot of people interested in checking out the various booths, talking to authors and buying a few books. It was my second year attending and I’m already looking forward to 2017’s festival.

Yesterday I was one of 40 authors at the Tulip City Author Event. We were packed into a conference room in a very nice hotel in downtown Holland, MI. Everyone was anxiously awaiting the crowd for the six hours we were scheduled to be there. Sadly, there was no crowd. By the bitter end, barely twenty potential customers wandered through.  Few books were sold by any author.

So what’s in a name?  In this case, everything.  The name of the event made it look like it was a conference for authors, not a book sale. Nothing indicated it was a chance to buy a book, talk to a local author about their work, or pick up some swag.  Several disappointed authors packed it in shortly after noon. My darling wife even walked over to the local visitor’s center to see if they had any information about it. She was told they had a flier but had no idea that the public could come in.
Live and learn. I’ll chalk it up to experience. But if they attempt this next year with the same name, I’m gonna pass.  Maybe I’ll read Hamlet instead.

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