A colleague of mine runs a design/build company that is also one of the larger landscape contractors in town. They do great work, and everybody knows it. What they don’t know is that this friend also does design work, and is just as qualified as I am to do it.

One of the problems, aside from everyone knowing his organization as a great landscape contractor (with a maintenance side), is that the organization is named that way as well. It very clearly communicates landscape construction and maintenance – not design.

So, when we discuss new projects and who’s doing what, there’s the inevitable topic of why he hasn’t been able to land certain design commissions. I always chalk it up to another firm’s longstanding tenure in the community, my firm’s connections from past work, or some combination of the two, never saying the real reason – that nobody thinks his company is capable of design, because of the way they’re named.

Unfortunately, it is something that can’t be changed at this point – there’s too much equity in their name to just change it. But, if you’re starting from scratch, think about what you want your organization to do while you’re thinking of the name. There’s a lot at stake.