So, in the face of fierce competition (and I personally think that Jim’ll Mix It were robbed), a gardening company calling itself The Lawnranger has won the Yellow Pages’ Best Business Name prize for this year.
Permission to be cynical about this, if I may. Not just because it gives the Yellow Pages free publicity on places they couldn’t otherwise reach (BBC Radio Five Live yesterday afternoon, for instance), but because there is a vague rule of thumb that the more interesting the name, the more disappointing the thing it describes. Not just in businesses (how many pedestrian hairdressing salons with names like ‘A Cut Above’ do you know, for instance), but also in fields such as music. Q Magazine once correctly pointed out the inverse correlation between Frank Black and The Sultans of Ping FC in terms of the promise of their names and the reality of how they sound.
The fact remains, though, that small businesses in particular have kept the UK’s bad pun industry going for many decades now. Less than a mile from here, we have a chippie calling itself ‘The Contented Sole’ (and aren’t fish shops blessed with an unusually high number of possible puns? Three off the top of my head: ‘A Plaice of Wonder’, ‘Cod-da Go’ (needs some work, that one), ‘Hake, Batter and Roll’. Oh, just me then…) More bafflingly, we have a laundrette calling itself ‘Brainwash 2’. The pun in itself is perfectly servicable, but wait – what’s that ‘2’ doing at the end there? An attempt to create some sort of bad-movie-sequel vibe? Who knows, especially since to the best of our knowledge, there is not and has never been a ‘Brainwash’?
But my favourite business name I’ll leave you to guess, though Swansea residents (who know the answer) need not apply. The setup: your name is Michael. In Swansea market, you own a respectable computer stall. Bearing in mind the rules of punning business names, what do you call your company?