In my first article about starting a language school in Japan, I wrote that you should think hard and choose an amazing name for your English school (eikaiwa). There are some cases where using your own name when naming your school business can have a positive impact on the school’s brand and sales, but in general, I think it’s better not to use your own name and I’ll explain why.
I’m BIG in Japan, so I should start by naming my English language school (eikaiwa) after myself, right?
Recently, I’ve heard some school owners suggest that there’s no problem with naming your school after yourself when starting a language school. I would also agree that there’s “no problem” with it, but why settle for satisfactory when you can do better? Any business that aims to be satisfactory or mediocre will probably get trampled by their competition. Just in case people are still confused about how to name their new language school (eikaiwa in Japan) when starting out, I’ll explain why there are better choices than using your own name for your school.
First, people who claim it’s okay to use your own name for your language school often reference famous companies such as Cadbury’s, Heinz, Adidas, McDonald’s, and Shane Eikaiwa to prove their point. Let’s think about that for a couple of seconds. You’re about to start a business and create a branding/marketing strategy for your new company and you’re comparing yourself to companies that started over 50 years ago (Shane), over 100 years ago (Heinz), or over 200 years ago (Cadbury’s). Do you think these companies were focused on internet marketing and SEO strategies over 70 years ago? Not a chance. Do you think that these companies have survived solely based on their names? No. And for this handful of examples, how many millions of companies named after the company founders have failed? Probably most of them. My point is that these examples aren’t very relevant when deciding a name for a new language school or business.
So using my name for my language school is bad?
No, of course not. The idea when starting out and creating a name for your language school is to create something that’s memorable, unique, and if possible, describes the brand or product being sold. If you’re a local celebrity starting an English school, then maybe your name might achieve some of these requirements, but for most people, your name can’t effectively describe your product.
Now let’s think about what makes a name memorable. Consider the following randomly generated names: Xenia, Cleisthenes, Haerviu. Are they easy for you to remember? They aren’t for me. What about Japanese names? Can you easily remember these names: Haruto, Rimia, Kounosuke? I’ve lived in Japan for 13 years and still struggle with Japanese names.
Now consider that when starting an English school in Japan, 99% of your customers will most likely be Japanese. Can you guarantee that they’re familiar with your name and can easily remember it? Another concern you should have with using your own name is that a search for “English School” could give results such as “Mike’s English School,” “Mac’s English School,” and “Meeka’s English School.” It will be difficult to stand out from the crowd if everyone has similarly named schools.
Find a memorable and meaningful name when naming your new language school or business
Now consider these three common words: apple, smile, and jump. Not only are they easy to remember, but they also are used in katakana English. Without a doubt Apple English School, Smile English School, and Jump English School are easier to recognize at a glance and remember.
Next, let’s design a logo for our school. Which name is going to be easier to design an effective logo? I can think of a dozen different designs for Apple English School, Smile English School, and Jump English School. Designing a logo based on your own name, on the other hand, leaves far fewer options.
Finally, I think the most important aspect to naming your school business should be the name’s ability to describe your school and the lessons that you provide. With Apple English School, I think about Apple for A and starting with the ABCs. With Smile English School, I think about kids and teachers laughing together. And with Jump English School, I think about kids actively using their bodies to learn. With “Your Name English School”, there’s nothing that comes to mind unless I know you personally.
Unfortunately the names Apple English School, Smile English School, and Jump English aren’t actually ideal because they’re probably already taken. But they do illustrate the importance of having a simple school name that’s easy to remember and describes your product. Of course, uniqueness is also important, which is why using Your Name English School is appealing to many people. We are all unique and our names typically illustrate that. Unfortunately, if the name isn’t memorable or descriptive, then it might be worth going back to the drawing board.
If you’ve already started your language school and named your school after yourself, you probably quickly realized that like most aspects of running a business, there’s no single decision that will make or break your chances of success. It’s the combination of lots of small, great decisions that will help you excel. So, if you’re just starting your new language school and don’t have a name yet, why not start your company with your first great decision: a great name for your language school. If you’re having troubles coming up with ideas, there’s always the random business and school name generator. Who knows, maybe you’ll get some inspiration.
Jeremy regularly gives presentations and workshops around Japan. He has also shared many of his ideas and experiences with numerous people through podcasts. You can hear selected podcasts below or check the following schedule of upcoming events and presentations to find out more.
Language School Owners Podcast: Self Publishing Your Own Curriculum
Language Kitchen Podcast 10 - A Story of Success as a Lifelong Learner by Huy Tran of Language Kitchen
★Upcoming Events and Presentations★
★JALT 2019 Conference★
November 1 - 4, 2019
1. (Time TBA) Goodbye to the Days of Students Not Doing Homework