What’s In A Name? The Story of Five Bells Inn

Today’s post will focus more on sharing a story re: a fictional business owner’s experience, as a result(?) of his business name. So, what’s in a name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet.

-Romeo & Juliet

Some say that your business name should tell people about what your business does… but you have successful companies like Amazon (nearly called “Cadabra,” as in “abracadabra”), which seems to be a reference to a rainforest. As a result of marketing, branding, sales, and building repeat customers, they’ve become a household name.

Some great business names tend to reflect their values. One that comes to mind locally is Common Grounds, a coffee shop in Lake Worth. Another with a memorable name is the Book Cellar, a nearby bookstore.

Good rule of thumb is that your business name should be easy to remember. Apple didn’t become Apple because of its name. McDonald’s did not become a global corporation due to its name alone. Once the company gained footage, then yes… people became interested in more than the products and services but the brand.

Referencing back to the tale, which you’ll find below, I found myself wondering how the business survived “generations” as Silver Star Inn then ceased to be profitable. Without consulting a sage, what changed? Market demand would be a first guess. Same thoughts re: the inn being renowned throughout the country. But it’s a fictional, humorous story … yet as the saying goes, correlation does not imply causation.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

-Henry David Thoreau.


Once upon a time there was an inn called the Silver Star. The innkeeper was unable to make ends meet even though he did his very best to draw customers by making the inn comfortable, the service cordial, and the prices reasonable. So in despair he consulted a sage.

After listening to his tale of woe, the sage said, “It’s very simple. You must change the name of your inn.”

“Impossible!” said the innkeeper. “It has been the Silver Star for generations and is well known all over the country.”

“No,” said the sage firmly. “You must now call it the Five Bells and have a row of six bells hanging at the entrance.”

“Six bells? But that’s absurd! What good would that do?”

“Give it a try and see,” said the sage with a smile.

Well, the innkeeper gave it a try. And this is what he saw. Every traveler who passed by the inn walked in to point out the mistake, each one believing that no one else had noticed it. Once inside, they were impressed by the cordiality of the service and stayed on to refresh themselves, thereby providing the innkeeper with the fortune that he had been seeking in vain for so long.


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to also read Starting a Small Business That Succeeds Longer Than 5 Years. You can also contact me for a complimentary consult.

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