Is It Time to Rename Your Agency?

By | July 18, 2011

Name Your Agency After What It Does Instead of Who Owns It


What is in a name? If you ask Shakespeare’s Juliet, she’ll tell you “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But, what does this 16th century girl know about naming insurance agencies anyway?

Your Name (Not) Here

Most independent, and many exclusive, agency owners take the simplest route and opt to legally name their business after themselves. Why not? It’s a common practice among professionals, particularly attorneys. However, selling insurance is significantly different than practicing law, so maybe how agencies name themselves should be different as well. Besides, there are inherent dangers in naming an agency after its owners. One of them is death, another is ego, and a third is image.

Death Is a Fact of Life

Every agency principal leaves the business eventually whether by sale, retirement, or death. So, if after this big time event, an agency continues using its former owner’s name (as many offices do), over time, the name loses its connection to the actual person. This distance is magnified when the time spans generations or the agency is named after multiple people and none of them still work there. Maintaining the name to honor a former owner is respectful, but it doesn’t help grow your agency. Exception: If the surname is revered within the agency’s marketing territory, then keep it, otherwise, consider renaming it.

Ego is Good, But…

Ego is an essential ingredient for every successful sales person, so it’s a good thing. It aids production best when it manifests itself as personal confidence, instead of in public displays. Self-titled agencies do the latter by putting ego first. While this act satisfies the principals whose names appear on the door, it doesn’t promote the loyalty and sales efforts of junior partners and producers. It’s a constant reminder that they aren’t valuable enough to have their name in lights, so to speak. Some operations attempt to deal with this by attaching “and associates” or something similar after the principals’ names. It’s a meaningless gesture to those who still remain unnamed. Of course you can’t name your agency after everybody who works there, but you can amend it to reflect what everyone in the office does.

Image Matters

Your firm’s brand is what sets you apart from rivals who do basically what you do. Market your brand with a name that extols why insurance exists: to boldly enhance financial security. The mere names of agency owners, living or dead, doesn’t denote this. So, explore alternatives. Build a list of secure-sounding, image-building words along with a list of businesslike suffixes. Mix the two. Sound out different combinations to arrive at several names that you like. Check to see if they are available, not too similar to those of rivals, and in a form that’s acceptable to your insurance regulator. To help, here are two starter lists for you. Tip: Always consider the logo possibilities, available Web domains, and obtainable social media usernames for each combination. Example: Confident Insurance Services.

Select one or combine two secure-sounding words such as: Asset; Assurance; Backstop; Beacon; Business; Careful; Comfort; Confident; Coverage; Dependable; Family; Financial; Guardian; Indemnity; Insurance; Integrity; Lookout; Protection; Reliable; Shelter; Smart; Sound; Strong; Watchdog…

Add a suffix to create a potential name such as: Agency; Brokerage; Brokers; Center; Direct; Group; Network; Online; Professionals; Services; Underwriters…

Reinvent Your Agency

When you title your agency after its function or desired image, instead of its ownership, you declare more about yourself than just your moniker. Besides, potential insureds will learn your name quickly enough once they interact with you.

So, make your business name more inclusive and descriptive. Use the opportunity to reinvent your office as a 21st century operation, instead of one that’s locked into the past. Promote your new name with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as social media is ideal for this purpose. Also employ e-mail messaging, direct mail, and ads. Besides, if one of your partners takes off to work elsewhere, you’ll want to rename your business anyway. Using a “non-name” name insulates you against this not so uncommon event.

About Alan L. Shulman

Alan Shulman, CPCU, is the publisher of Agency Ideas® sales and marketing newsletter (free basic subscription at www.agencyideas.com/join). He is also the author of “500 Sales Ideas for Commercial Lines Producers” among many other P&C sales resources. Email: alan@agencyideas.com. Website: www.agencyideas.com. More from Alan L. Shulman

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