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Hey I'm just starting out with forging/blacksmithing and I am think about selling my creations in the future and I was wondering if anyone could help me with a name I can put behind my products. 

I was thinking about having the name incorporate my middle name which is Bruce. But it doesn't have to if you have any ideas they would be very appreciated.

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This is something that you need to come up with.

As a rule, try to keep a business name simple. Avoid odd spellings of common names to make it easier for people to look you up.

As you are just starting out you will have a lot of time before you are ready to sell, so don't rush it.

Many smiths use just their name with their unique touchmark.

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Forge_man

For starters, don't incorporate the word "forge" into your business name.  It's been co-opted by marketing types to sell everything from umbrellas to lemonade.  A quick internet search will reveal the absolutely overwhelming number of businesses using "forge" in their names, virtually none of which pertain to metal working in any form.  If asked to define a "forged object", a significant portion of the public would answer in terms of identity theft. That's bad for business.

If your customers cannot easily find you, and easily define what you have to offer, you will spend a fortune in advertising trying to teach them.  GAP must have spent an insane fortune teaching everyone to expect overpriced jeans in their stores.  Cut to the chase for your own business.  If you're making forged steel goods, be specific.  Architectural ironwork is better than metal art because metal and art are basically limitless terms.  Marketing should speak to you customer in their terms, not yours.  If 99% of your customers are going to search five consistent key words, it'd be wise to use one of those words in your name.

A lot of entrepreneurs overlook easy opportunities to appeal to the masses.  Everyone loves nature.  Naming a business after a local geographic feature or landmark identifies your location.  A lot of city, state, and county names are foreign words to the current population.  Many of which translate into something that evokes pride in the locals.  For example "Milwaukee" is Algonquin for "good land".  It's a conversational element for your marketing which links your brand to your location.  Moreover, it rewards your customers intelligence.  If you get so successful down the line that you have to relocate, you can (and should) keep the name.

Finally, I think it's really significant to point out that minimalist trends in business names provide a tremendous opportunity for new entrepreneurs to stand out.  Drive around and look at commercial buildings.  How many signs do you see that actually tell you what the business does?  Terms like "restaurant", bank, clothier, grocer, shoes, they've all been stripped away.  It's like everyone wants to play keep-away with basic information.  

Speaking for myself, I can tell you that I've overlooked businesses for years because they had a meaningless name that didn't communicate what they actually did.  Whenever I've told the proprietors about it, they all say something equivalent to "yeah, we hear that a lot"!  

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3 hours ago, rockstar.esq said:

For starters, don't incorporate the word "forge" into your business name

First time I heard of that. Black Bear Forge is well known, for example. That is the one I copied from :) I guess one could use 'Ironworks' instead?

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I'm not at all sure that I agree with Rockstar regarding not using the word "forge" in your name.  Despite other folk using it for other purposes it still means a place where hot iron and  steel is hammered into objects.  There are only a few synonyms such as smithy, ironworks, or, even, blacksmith shop.  If you don't like "forge" Cedar Crest Blacksmith Shop would easily convey what you do.

Rockstar does make a point about the commonest definition of "forge" being false or bogus.  Once, when I was back in Chicago and going through the phone book my mother asked me what I was looking for.  I told her "forging tools" and she went ballistic thinking I was pursuing nefarious ends.  It took me a bit to convince her that my context "forging" meant honest iron working.

All that said, I've done business as Westmarch Forge for the last 40 years or so.

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Choose a name that can be built into a business and passed on (sold) to the next fellow. Bruce's Forge is only good if the buyer's name is Bruce.  Otherwise he will have to rename the business and establish its reputation all over again.

Brand (name) it so when the business sells, the value of the brand name ADDS to the value of the sale.

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One option is to use a business name that incorporates a translation of your name. For example, I'm just starting to use "King's Mountain Forge" for my paid smithing work, since "King's Mountain" is a loose translation of my Cornish surname (which people always misspell and mispronounce anyway).

In your case, "Bruce" derives from the place-name "Brix", which derives from the Norman French for "thick brush". You could call your business "Brushwood Forge" or something like that, which would satisfy both Glenn's recommendation that the name could be passed on or sold and also your desire to have your own name on it (if in a somewhat coded or secret way).

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On 5/20/2019 at 8:17 PM, Cedar Crest Forge said:

First time I heard of that. Black Bear Forge is well known, for example. That is the one I copied from :) I guess one could use 'Ironworks' instead?

That's actually an excellent example of what I'm talking about.  Black Bear Forge is well known among blacksmiths who watch youtube.

Unless your primary income comes from selling stuff to internet blacksmith voyeurs, it's not a marketing plan to follow.  

Even if it was, consider the predicament you'd be in.  Your audience is mostly comprised of people who's primary interest is in making the thing you're selling, themselves.  If so, it might be a good idea to sell plans for your projects like the TV craft shows do. 

Also, please consider how much work he's put into his videos on youtube.  I've watched hours of them and it's clear that he puts a lot of effort into them.  That's tons and tons of work to "teach" Google that "Black Bear Forge" is different from a similarly named maple syrup purveyor in Vermont.  I made that up about the maple syrup company in Vermont, then just for fun, I googled to see if it existed.  It does!

To give credit where due, Black Bear Forge has been at this for thirty years.  Odds are excellent that internet search terms weren't a consideration the day he started.  Thirty years ago, most people didn't have five T.V. channels, let alone cell phones, call waiting, or affordable long-distance phone service.  Print ads were about the only way to cheaply access customers across the country.  When you were paying for every single letter of your ad, it made more sense to communicate efficiently.  I suspect this is why businesses of my youth identified their purpose in all their advertisements.  Businesses who named themselves "XYZ Forge" had to list off their actual products so people would have a reason to contact them.  Think about that for a second.  Even thirty years ago, businesses had to pay extra in advertising just to offset the word "forge"!

Today, people use smart phones for everything.  Little smudgy screens with tiny keyboards make it hard to type. Autocorrect, auto fill, voice search, and keyword ads all work against you if your business name is poorly chosen.  Search engines are the arbiters of who get's found and who doesn't.  At best, they are capricious, at worst, the search results will sabotage your business.  

In contrast, if you take the time to research the most popular search terms that customers use to access a business like yours, you'll likely discover that there are plenty of terms that virtually nobody is using for their business name.  That would get you on the first page of every search engine with zero advertising cost.

 

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On 5/20/2019 at 8:17 PM, Cedar Crest Forge said:

Black Bear Forge is well known

For what its worth, He is a great guy and most likely can give you some good advice and tips on succeeding as a traditional smith. 

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alas, there lies the slippery slope. After securing my hand forged cleats to my bare feet, I'd venture forth and state the ones who have the best understanding of that is every one of us when we first started this exciting journey. in all of our innocence and naivety perhaps we all in one way or another, share that one vision. 

that of some nut standing between anvil and forge beating hot iron.

and upon our faces was a look of excitement, passion and wonder. that look of wonder representing  the great unknown,,, "I wonder where this path will take me if I just keep on heating and beating."

a few after so much time are still as excited and full of that wonder as every new guy and gal just starting out today.  ;)

I suspect that most of us here still "wonder" just what the next hammer blow will reveal.

thus the essence of a traditional smith

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Well I've met a passle of "traditional smiths" who would tell me that they way smithing has been done for 3000 years was "not traditional" but the way it has been done for about 800 years was...Basically they made assumptions without researching. (BTW that's the charcoal vs coal divide per "Cathedral Forge and Water Wheel", Gies & Gies. One of the other common mistakes was thinking a blacksmith's shop would only have 1 person working in it...)

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Create the business with your name. That is all.. You are the business and it is your name and person that someone will look for.  Cutzy names are all well in good but today with networking,  facebook, facebook groups, etc, etc.  Just your name is all it will take. 

I wish someone years ago when I started this profession someone would have told me that.  Your name was given to you at birth. It is you signature and will be yours even when you leave. 

What do you thing when I say  Samuel Yellin, or Francis Whittaker or Mark Aspery..    What do you think when i say JLP Services Inc..     

Jennifer Petrila   Blacksmith, hand and machine forgings, lessons, etc, etc.  See how nice and clean that can be on a card or placard. 

Thomas, on this note for people in the shop, Men, women, Children and animals were used in blacksmith shops or forge shops.  Forging of metals was not just carried out by blacksmiths. Blacksmith being a general term vs Cutler, etc, etc. 

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JLP,

You're making a solid point about using your given name, however you're working to the advantage of people with more common names.  It would be hard to stand out when you share a name with hundreds of people per city.  Or, for that matter, if you share a name with a famous or historical person.

In the construction industry there's a strong tendency for building firms to name themselves such that they get a three letter initialism, like you are using.  Further, they refer to themselves as "General Contractors" which doesn't convey any connection to construction whatsoever.  Finally, they consistently use trite, two or three word mottos in their branding.  

Every competing firm ends up with a letter head that reads: ABC General Contractors "Building relationships", or "XYZ GC "Quality, Integrity, Passion".  

This seems to be a marketing strategy built around the assumption that their customer is looking for a precise level of bland conformity.  Someone who spends three hours comparing identical shades of beige, worrying that one is too "Monkey dung", and the other is not "Monkey dung" enough.

In the marketplace, all the GC's are subjected to competitive bids because they're all viewed as commodities.  There's nothing intrinsically or aesthetically better about one firm over the other, so they're all assumed to be perfect equals.  There isn't even a sense of scale provided in this marketing approach.  Tiny companies knocking out basement remodels market themselves the same way as huge multi-national firms.

I mentioned the "General Contracting" thing because it's the pedantic construction industry equivalent of "Blacksmith" or "Forge".  

I suspect that specialists tend to assume that whatever they nerd out about will be of pivotal significance to their clients.  It virtually never is.  

In my experience marketing professionals tend to repeat whatever everyone else is doing, without considering whether a given trend is actually good for business. 

 

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On 5/30/2019 at 3:45 PM, rockstar.esq said:

You're making a solid point about using your given name, 

I get your point. But this is not general contracting or the like with any major town having 5 smiths with the same name. 

I still stick with the persons name being best.  Look around at any well to do smith. Or a well known name. Create the brand and your name is the brand. 

The examples given didn't start out with great names. They created the brand. 

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Years go it was easier to use  cutesy name or come up with something "smart"

 

Today your work will create it's own following and your name will reflect across the networking fields.

I personally find it frustrating to follow who is who and names eliminate the quess work.

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I take your point, but there's a bit of a chicken and egg thing here.  If nobody can find the "work", it doesn't get much chance to develop a following.  Relying on "internet fame" via social media is far from a sure thing. Most of the platforms are incredibly unjust to content creators.  There's rampant theft of content and links, so your "work" will eventually end up sending potential clients to a competitor's site.  From firsthand experience, I can tell you that any complaints to the social media site about this sort of thing lead to getting banned, or blocked.

I appreciate the simplicity of what you're suggesting, but there's a point where the limits of minimalism work against a business.

For example, Smith is a really popular surname in America.

 "Smith Forge" would be a terrible business name in 2019. Google it and first page you get , Hard Apple Cider, Sunglasses, an Apartment complex, A wine shop, a different hard cider company, a Canadian web design firm, Wikipedia, Building Information Modeling, and a Popular Mechanics about home blacksmithing.  Not one of those results was for a blacksmithing business.

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On 5/30/2019 at 3:35 PM, jlpservicesinc said:

Today your work will create it's own following and your name will reflect across the networking fields.

Jen, you are absolutely right on. 

On 5/30/2019 at 5:08 PM, rockstar.esq said:

I take your point, but there's a bit of a chicken and egg thing here.

First, and to repeat, your business advice is top notch,,, If, and I stress, If you want a roll in conventional construction. It does not apply to one who chooses to follow the path of a traditional architectural smith. I do not believe that social media works if your goal is gates, railings, or ironing a house completely.  It is a way if your goal is to compete with every foreign importer of, say, "S" hooks and you want to make 1000 items a week at a buck a piece wholesale. You must understand that these two concepts, conventional vs craft come from two different birds, and you are mixing up their eggs.  :) 

 

On 5/30/2019 at 1:45 PM, rockstar.esq said:

I suspect that specialists tend to assume that whatever they nerd out about will be of pivotal significance to their clients.  It virtually never is.  

Again, with much respect, this seems to be an underlying opinion of yours twards craftsmen. I dont understand it.  Certainly from Francis Whitaker to Thomas Latane and many points in between, We are not in the habit of "nerding" out anything.  ;) Unless, of course, you think that dedicating your life to anything is a "nerds" choice.  

"It virtually never is".  Sorry, but it Always is. Thats is most likely the one singular selling point of our work.

As for the oft spoken concept that we are a nitch market and the assumption from this being there is not enough work to support a lifestyle.  This is one of those "check yer premise"  type of statements.  The reason being that no matter how small a nitch "Traditional Architectural Blacksmithing" may be, Ive never come across one out of work. Simply said and a Whitaker quote,, "there's plenty of room at the top".  Meaning there are not enough of us to fill the nitch. Its a wide open market.

Again, I praise your business acumen. However it does not apply to craftwork. The first step to success as any type of craftsman is to start thinking out of the conventional box. Choose any conventional details that will help, but you must find your own way. The pathway is tough, dirty, physically taxing and the failure rate is high, But,semi-serious- if you dont quit and stay in one place long enough, you Will succeed!

 

Thomas, I repeat, a traditional smith is simply one who makes his or her living betwixt hammer and anvil. This is my definition.  It is simple, concise and to the point. And  ;) removes all the intellectual egotism from the equation.  :) 

This post is not meant to offend anyone. Its my opinion and i have dedicated my life to standing behind and living the above.  You might say,,, Im "showing off" just what i am with the hope that my experiences will give a passionate new guy, or part timer or anyone the courage to push the envelope a bit harder purely and simply to just follow your dreams. There are no reruns, control alt delete is not valid, and the OS you have is all you get. 

 

 

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Anvil well said.  

There is plenty of work out there for all and I know a few guys who are very happy to supply wares to Etsy, FB market place and a few others as well.  These guys are hammering out a living doing production smith work a lot like the olden days but instead of selling to a grocery or General store they hit the networking and do it that way. 

With the number of people venturing into smithing the " Cutzy, area names, etc, etc.with forge, or Blacksmithing, or hammer and such) it just gets way to confusing and without a reference of name to face I get lost amongst them all. 

John Smith architectural forgings or Architectural blacksmith. or such.   is a good example of simple to both see what they specialize in and the person running/supporting the firm. 

Anyhow,  Take a reference from other high-end boat builders, or Furniture makers, or even tops in the Blacksmithing or bladesmithing arenas.   Bill Moran.. ??? :) 

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One odd thing that I have observed is that the word "smith" is unrecognized by most people as a craftsman or fabricator.  Most people associate it with a name, not an occupation.  At one time I had business card with "George Monsson, smith" on them.  I got mail, etc. addressed to Mr. Monsson-Smith.  So, use "blacksmith" or "ironsmith" or "architectural iron worker" or something else to avoid confusion between your name and your occupation.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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