Selecting a Practice Name
Names are powerful. Choosing the right name for your dental practice can make a difference.
- Does the name sound good when it’s said aloud? Alliteration may be nice but if people stumble over the name, you may need to rethink it.
- Does the name convey a benefit? Being too generic may not be a boost to your business.
- Is the name appropriate if you move your practice, sell it or hire another dentist?
- Are you trying to be too clever? Toys-R-Us may work for selling toys, but be thoughtful about choosing a practice name that supports your brand.
- Pick a name that’s web-ready. If you want to claim a web address with your practice name, check there first. You may also want to do the same with social media – whether you initially plan to use those marketing channels or not.
- Register your practice name with the appropriate state agencies. This is not the same as trademarking your practice name (which is not required but might be a good idea). It is also not the same as incorporating your business.
Many dentists choose to name their practice with their last name. Even dentists in solo practice may find solid reasons to name their practice in another manner. Here are some options.
1. Dentist's Name
The practice name includes all or part of the dentist's name.
Advantages: Personalizes the practice, gives immediate name recognition, gives the impression of a solo practice with one-on-one service.
Disadvantages: Does not allow for changes in associates and/or partners without being confusing to patients, the name remains linked to the original owner when a practice is sold, does not tell anything about the practice mission or position.
2. Descriptive Name
Usually describes the practice's activities (focus) or can have some geographical connotation (Family Dental Center, Berkshire Dental Clinic, or Spring Hill Family Dental).
Advantages: Allows you to add associates and/or partners easily without confusing the patients, the name can continue even after the practice is sold; can communicate your practice position (focus), can be used to describe location, landmark or section of town – assisting prospective patients in finding your practice location.
Disadvantages: What starts out as an accurate description can quickly become outdated – Hickman Dental Clinic decides to move to the south side of the city.
3. Abbreviated Name
An abbreviation for a longer full name. Familiar corporate examples are Amoco (American Oil Company) and PanAm (Pan American Airlines).
Advantages: Short, easy-to-use, can be empowered with some kind of relevance; not as restrictive as some fully descriptive names, allows for flexibility for future name usage and growth.
Disadvantages: May appear as vague or impersonal, and may be difficult to apply to the dental profession.
The use of initials for the business name. Examples are IBM (International Business Machines) and TWA (Trans World Airlines).
Advantages: Short, easy to use; not as restrictive as some fully descriptive names.
Disadvantages: Need much heavier promotion than other names to break through the barrier of anonymity that they can portray, they often stay anonymous in potential customers' minds, can be impersonal.
5. Abstract Name
These names are usually created from an abstract thought or relationship to the business or item being named. An example would be Kodak, which inventor Eastman thought sounded like a camera-shutter's click.
Advantages: Can be unique and attention getting, allows you to add associates and/or partners easily without confusing the patients, the name can continue even after the practice is sold.
Disadvantages: May appear vague or impersonal, and may need heavier promotion to gain recognition in your market area.
6. Analogous Name
Draws an analogy between the company and a specific object or quality. For example, Apple Computer is analogous with the symbol for learning for an education-based computer company; Sunlight Detergent implies bright, shining, sparkling; and Nike is taken from the Greek word for victory.
Advantages: Can be unique and attention getting – very memorable to prospective customers, can be very descriptive of your practice position and focus, allows you to add associates and/or partners easily without confusing the patients, the name can continue even after the practice is sold.
Disadvantages: May need heavier promotion to gain recognition in your market area, and may seem impersonal.
Once you have a few ideas, bounce them off friends, family and business contacts to get their input. You may also want to search online to see if there are similar names – especially in your area.
After you have chosen a name, consult with your attorney for information about searching, trademarking and protecting your new business name.
Then, you can start working on your practice logo.