What you name your acupuncture practice can have a serious impact on the success of your business. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.
Who could blame me? I was drawn to the symbolism and inner meaning of traditional Chinese medicine's colorful and descriptive language. I was enthusiastic about playing with the deeper meaning of these words to come up with my very own original name. This led to to a common mistake that many acupuncturists make when choosing a name for their acupuncture business. Don't make the same mistake I did. Name your acupuncture practice with a name that makes you happy, attracts new clients, is cost-effective, and does not scare people away.
1. Brainstorm! Write down as many ideas as you can come up with. Give yourself days, weeks, even months if you have the time. Keep a pad of paper or a voice recorder (most cell phones have them) by your bed, in your car, or in your back pack. Have fun with this. Let the ideas flow!
2. Get feedback from people who are NOT in the Chinese medicine field. Once you have a few names narrowed down, ask people who are unfamiliar with TCM terms and jargon for the first HONEST thought and the first image that enters their mind when you tell them each business name. Be open to hearing what they have to say, even if they are critical. Remember it could be what your future patients will be thinking.
3. Include what you do in your name. Having words like "Acupuncture", "Oriental Medicine", "Chinese Medicine", "Herbal Medicine" or "Holistic Medicine", along with "Clinic" can be useful because they describe the services you provide. All someone has to do is read your name and they know what you do. This will save you money when it comes to advertising, phone listings, yellow page ads, business cards, signage, and other printed materials where space is limited or you have to pay by the word.
4. Do an online search of the name you are considering. Use Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines to see what comes up when you type in your acupuncture practice name. If the exact name comes up, it does not mean you can't use it. It depends on how and where it is being used. It could be the name of someone's clinic in another country or it could be the name of a book or magazine article. You may not want your clinic being confused with any of these. Legally you may have some issues too, so proceed with caution.
5. Do a domain name search of your potential acupuncture clinic name. Some people forget this step. Even if you do not plan to have a website right away (or ever), go ahead and check to see if the domain name is available. Your domain name and clinic name may be different. Check both! For instance, if I was to name my clinic "Vancouver Acupuncture & Holistic Health Services", I would search the entire name on Google and do a domain search for:
Additionally, since I know I would name my website using only the nickname "vanacu", I would search Google for "vanacu" and "www.vanacu.com". This is a good way to double check what is already out there and assure yourself that you have a unique name.
6. Including your location is optional, but if you are going to use it, be specific. I remember being advised against using any kind of location in a business name but I actually think including the city or county can be helpful, especially if no one else has done it before.
It gives your acupuncture practice an automatic kind of legitmacy. Compare the difference between, "Vancouver Acupuncture & Holistic Health Services" and "Acupuncture & Holistic Health Services". Adding the "Vancouver" not only tells everyone where I am located (unless they think I am in Vancouver, B.C. which happens) but also suggests I am established in the community. Try it out and always check to see what other business have the same city or county name.
I think it is best to avoid broad locations like "Northwest" because that can be confusing. It could mean the entire Pacific Northwest, or a specific area known as Northwest Portland in Oregon.
7. Catchy is Good, but Clear is Better. If you can be creative and come up with something catchy that is also clear that is the ideal combination. But do not sacrifice clarity for cutesy. Having said that, in the end, you have to go with your heart. You'll be living with the name of your clinic for years & YEARS to come, so ultimately YOU must be happy.
8. When you think you have settled on a name, sleep on it! Give yourself at least one night to let it sink in. If you wake feeling just as, or even more, enthusiastic then you've found your name.
Congratulations!. Your next step is to legally register the name of your acupuncture practice.
In order to register you new business name, you must first decide on a business structure. This is the time you get to learn the difference between a "Sole Proprietorship" or "DBA", and a "Limited Liability Company". Don't worry, I will keep it simple.
What NOT to Name Your Acupuncture Practice
Organize Your Business Structure: SP, DBA, LLC, Corp