Naming your billboard company can be one of the most decisions you will make. A good name seems to lead to success, and a bad name normally guarantees failure.
So how do you correctly name your billboard business?

It needs to be, essentially, just one word.

Since the beginning of time (or at least the 1920s), billboards have been identified by a one-word name placed beneath the advertisement and centered from left-to-right. This one-word nameplate is called the “shield”. And it is placed on what is called the “skirting” of the sign.

So any good name for a billboard company should initially revolve around one word that is favorable for a shield. For example, your company could be named The Arkansas Company, and your shield would say “Arkansas”. Or, with that same shield, the company could be called Arkansas Outdoor Advertising. Or Arkansas and Associates Outdoor. But the essential part of the name is that one word that will go on the shield.

That one word needs to set the right tone.

You want a name on your shield that is strong and gives off a positive impression. You will soon be known as the “guy from __________” by your landowners and advertisers – so make sure that you pick a name you would want to be described as and identified with. Using a name that is already known and trusted by the general population is always a good one. For example, my first billboard company was called “Chase”, which I used to gain some of the respectability of the bank by that same name. Since a billboard guy is always in the field, and meetings are never held at this office, your clients will only know you by your company name, and a favorable impression will increase your odds of success.

Never use your name.

When you are trying to start a billboard company, it is very important to appear bigger than you really are, to give your clients reassurance that you will be able to deliver on your promises financially. There is no better way to appear like a small-time operator than naming the company after yourself. Your clients will immediately know, after meeting you in the field, that if the name of the company is the same as your last name, then you are a one-man band, and not a bigger concern.

Yes, there are exceptions to this rule – look at Foster & Kleiser, Lamar and Eller Media. But most of the household names are not last names , such as Clear Channel, CBS, and Fairway. Other than ego, there is no business advantage to using your name, but a lot of negatives, so it doesn’t make any sense to go that route if you want the best odds for success.

Make sure the name is easy to pronounce.

In the course of your career, you will be saying that name a thousand times a day “this is John Smith from Fargo Outdoor”, so make sure that it does not wear you out. It should be a couple syllables and no tongue twisters. If you cannot say the name ten times in a row, quickly, without screwing up, then find something easier. You clients will have as much trouble with saying the name as you will.


A good billboard company name gives a positive first impression, is easy to pronounce, and suggests that the company is larger than it really is. Since it is a competitive world out there, you need every advantage you can get – and there is no greater initial advantage than a good name.

So think carefully before you print those business cards or paint that first shield. Name yourself for success and you will be glad you spent the time and thought doing so.