Note: This post contains some salty language. Sensitive readers should go watch this video of a cheetah cub and a dog who are best friends instead. Eager readers should skip right to the ranked list. Curious readers should just continue reading.
Want to make your business name memorable? Make it a play on words. Puns are one option, and I’ll talk about those next time, but today I want to focus on idioms.
An idiom is “an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically … or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements,” according to Webster’s.
If you’re a native English speaker, you use idioms all the time without even noticing. If English isn’t your first language, you probably find many idioms incomprehensible. A dust bunny? A horse of a different color? Crocodile tears? The words are all familiar, but the meaning is mystifying.
Still, idioms are such an integral part of language that they have built-in “stickiness,” a term popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his bestseller The Tipping Point. As he explains, “We tend to spend a lot of time thinking about how to make messages more contagious—how to reach as many people as possible with our products or ideas. But the hard part of communication is often figuring out how to make sure a message doesn’t go in one ear and out the other. Stickiness means that a message makes an impact.”
People often take advantage of the stickiness of idioms by recontextualizing them as a memorable business name. The name of my business, for example, is Let’s Just Be Clear. In conversation, this phrase conveys something like, “I want to cut the bullshit and get straight to the point.” And that’s part of what I mean, but I’m also implying, “You and I should work together to create online content that’s succinct and straightforward.”
Ever since I chose an idiomatic business name, I’ve been on the lookout for others, and I’ve noticed that laundromats around town are particularly clever with using idioms in a new context. Here’s my selection of the best laundromat names based on idioms in San Francisco, ranked: