Are you in the process of naming your new business or product? We have good news for you!
The good news is this: this article you’re reading right now lists and explains costly mistakes you need to avoid when naming your business.
Repeating these mistakes is very dangerous, as they are capable of damaging your brand and rendering your marketing efforts futile.
If you avoid them, however, we promise you will have a brand name that is capable of driving the success of your business.
You don’t believe us? Just read on and you will be glad we wrote this post just for you.
This article is a very comprehensive one. Therefore, you may need to bookmark it if you can’t read it all in one sitting.
We look forward to reading about how you found this article very helpful!
1. Not attaching importance to your business name
Are you one of those entrepreneurs who don’t believe a business name is that important.
Such a notion is always responsible for creating a brand name that does harm, rather than good, to your business.
For instance, students often don’t do well in subjects they think are not important. Why? Because our beliefs and views about a thing positively or negatively impact our commitment to the success of that thing.
In other words, we tend to give attention to things we like and withdraw attention from those things we don’t like.
This is absolutely true about business names. The moment you don’t think your business name is that important, how and what you name your business don’t matter to you.
But you know what? That simple thought of yours could be one of the most costly business mistakes you would ever make.
Hence, it is very crucial to come to terms with the fact your brand name is more important than what you think.
That is the first step to developing an effective name for your business.The first step to developing an effective name for your business is to believe your business name is very important. Click To Tweet
2. Not learning how to create an effective name for a business before creating one for your business
Do you always feel like learning more about what you don’t attach importance to? We bet you don’t.
That logically explains, to a large extent, why many business owners don’t learn about how to effectively name a business before naming theirs.
We can’t succeed beyond what our knowledge can afford us, do we? When you see a badly named business, you immediately realize its founder(s) never learned about effective brand name development—or they ignored it!Often, a badly named business is as a result of its founder(s)' ignorance of the knowledge of effective brand name development. Click To Tweet
Besides doing your brand a harm and a disservice, you become a bad example for journalists and bloggers to cite when you name your startup without learning how to name it well.
Quora founders, Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, actually read an article about coming up with brand names by Glassdoor founder, Rich Barton, before naming their Q & A platform.
Naming a business effectively is a learned skill.Naming a business effectively is a learned skill. Click To Tweet that’s why global brands such as Microsoft would pay thousands of dollars to get their products and services named by naming companies/consultants.
Therefore, in this time and age, you can only effectively name your business by learning how to do it right.
Here is the ultimate guide on how to create a brand name that will work for you.
3. Not having enough knowledge about your business before naming it
One of the major mistakes entrepreneurs make when naming their new business is not factoring as many relevant details as possible into the naming process.
You can never create an effective brand name in a vacuum.You can never create an effective brand name in a vacuum. Click To Tweet You need to know as much as possible about your business before you can name it appropriately.
That’s why you can’t work with a competent naming consultant/agency without giving enough relevant details about the business you want to name.
Relevant business details are needed to create a relevant, effective name for your business. How much do you know about your new business?
If you want a very suitable brand name that you can perfectly incorporate your business (in all its ramifications) into and that you won’t need to change for a long time to come, you will need to know your business in and out.Knowing your business in and out will help you give it the most appropriate name. Click To Tweet
One way to know the specific business details you will need when naming your business is to create a naming brief.
4. Not creating and/or using a naming brief when naming your business
As the popular saying goes: “If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail.” That’s exactly what happens when you try to name your business without using a naming brief.
Simply put, a naming brief is a professional template with which you carry out your brand naming process.
It is a set of criteria that determine how your business name will look like.
Did you know D’Angelo and Cheever created certain criteria that guided the process through which they came up with the name Quora?
Those criteria, probably unknown to them, formed their naming brief.
No genuine naming specialist or agency/platform will try to develop a name for you without using one form of a naming brief or another.
A naming brief contains all the details that you need to logically and adequately name your business. In fact, a good naming brief will help you know your new business, industry, competitors, etc., better.A good naming brief will help you know your new business, industry, competitors, etc., better. Click To Tweet
With it, you will not only have the right startup name you will be proud of, you will also have a brand name you own.With a naming brief, you will create a brand name that will stand the test of time, that you will be proud of , and that you own. Click To Tweet
Hence, before you create that business name, ensure you create a comprehensive naming brief first of all.
5. Not giving enough attention and time to your business’ naming process
It is quite unfortunate that many entrepreneurs, especially newbies, don’t give much attention to naming their business.
When you don’t know the importance of a business name; when you don’t know what an effective naming process entails; when you don’t know the role an effective naming brief plays in naming a business, rushing the naming process is inevitable.
Most of all the bad, ineffective business names today are products of a rushed brand naming process.Most of all the bad, ineffective business names today are products of a rushed brand naming process. Click To Tweet
How do you make your target audience favourably interact with your brand through an half-baked, customer-chasing business name?
Whatever you don’t give quality time, effort, planning and thoughts to, seldom produces the desired results. Naming your business is not an exception.
That’s why it is good to start the naming process as soon as you have a tangible idea of what your new business is all about.Start the naming process for your business as soon as you have enough knowledge of what your new business is all about. Click To Tweet
Remember your business name is the first and primary point of contact between your potential clients and your business. Hence, starting the naming process only when you’re about to launch your business is a decision that you may regret later.ÑStarting the naming process only when you're about to launch your business is a decision that you may regret later. Click To Tweet
Therefore, make sure you take your time and give your business naming project all the needed attention. You will be glad you did!
6. Not involving naming experts when you know you can’t effectively name your business by yourself
We don’t know why it is difficult for some entrepreneurs to realize naming a business effectively is a learned skill.
How do you belittle one of the most important assets of your business?
The fact there are brand naming consultants, naming companies, crowdsourced naming platforms with freelance business namers, should tell you naming a business is a serious business.
Granted, not all business owners can afford professional brand name development. In fact, you can effectively name your business yourself by following well-written how-to guides, articles and books.
However, not everybody can competently name a business effectively, even after reading the best resources on naming. The nature and complexity of your business will directly determine the nature and complexity of your business naming needs.The nature and complexity of your business will directly determine the nature and complexity of your business naming needs. Click To Tweet
And whether you like it or not, your brand name will definitely impact your brand— either positively or negatively. It’s a given!
Besides, outsourcing what you can’t do well or don’t have quality time for when you can afford it—while focusing on what you can do best—is one of the hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs.One of the hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs is outsourcing what they can't do well or give quality time to—when they can afford it—while focusing on what they can do best. Click To Tweet
That’s why it is wise to hire a naming consultant/agency—depending on your budget—when you are struggling to name your business yourself or by your team.
NOTE: If you don’t want a naming consultant, for instance to directly create your business name for you, he/she can professionally guide you through the naming process until you have an effective brand name you’re proud of.
No doubt, hiring a naming expert or company will cost you money, but if you hire the right person/team, you will always be glad you made the investment.Hiring the right naming consultant/agency for your naming project when you need to, is a wise investment you won't regret making. Click To Tweet
Also, you can crowdsource your brand name on one of the popular crowdsourced naming platforms. You can enjoy the following benefits by using a crowdsourced naming platform:
- Cheaper price
- Talent pool
- Numerous brand name candidates to choose from
- A shorter service delivery duration
On the other hand, hiring a naming consultant/agency can give you the following advantages:
- 100% attention to you and your naming project
- Display of professionalism & expertise
- Standard brand naming procedure
- Quality assurance
The choice is yours; but just make sure you get an effective brand name for your startup at the end of the day.
Just like a landed property, an effective brand name will continue to appreciate in terms of goodwill, prestige, marketability and brand recognition.Just like a landed property, an effective brand name will continue to appreciate in terms of goodwill, prestige, marketability and brand recognition. Click To Tweet Hence, get it right—once and for all.
7. Asking for business name suggestions from strangers in online forums such as Quora and Reddit
Getting effective names for businesses is increasingly becoming difficult.
Hence, it is common to see entrepreneurs and business owners ask for brand name suggestions in online forums such as Quora and Reddit.
This is an ineffective business naming strategy for few reasons:
It doesn’t show you value the image of the new brand you want to build
Would you ever imagine the likes of Google and Microsoft asking for business name suggestions in online forums?
If your brand eventually becomes very successful and famous later, would you be happy if people find out your brand name was publicly suggested in an open, online forum by a random person?
Please, project your new brand the right and respectable way.
It means you don’t own your brand name and the process that produces it
Why do you think you own a brand name randomly suggested by a stranger online? Also, can you confidently prove you own the process through which the stranger suggests the name?
A naming brief ensures you have ownership over your business name and the process that creates it. An online, public forum won’t guarantee you that.Asking for brand name suggestions in online forums won't guarantee your ownership of both your brand name and the process that produces it. But using a naming brief guarantees you both. Click To Tweet
For instance, under trademark laws, we have what is called “the right of first use.” Whoever uses a name first has a better chance of legally claiming its ownership.
Now when you ask people to suggest names to you online and you pick one of the suggested names, you risk loosing the name to the person who suggested the name in the future.
If the person wakes up one day and decides to use the same business name because he/she finds it suitable for a new startup, he/she could exercise “the right of first use” law on you.
Do you know why? He/she was the first person to use it. On Quora, for example, such a name would be part of the answer written by the writer.
You even have a higher risk if the person effectively documented how he/she was the first person to use the name.
What would you do if you had already invested a lot of resources into that name and everything you have associated it with? You might be the unfortunate looser—and that person might be the fortunate winner!
Therefore, make sure own your company name and the process that develops it.
You may end up paying an unnecessarily huge sum of money for the suggested name’s domain
There are two possibilities here:
- Someone truly suggests a name to you and then a certain domain squatter, who lurks around, goes ahead to register the domain in order to sell it to you at an exorbitant rate.
- A domain squatter suggests a name—whose domain he/she has already registered—to you. He/she may convince you to use the name so you can buy its expensive domain from him/her.
Domain squatters make profits off individuals and entities by taking ownership of their domain names (via domain registration) with the hope of selling the domains to them at exorbitant rates.
It is very funny how individuals, who don’t want to create their business names themselves or pay for professional help, end up paying for what they never needed!
That’s what asking for brand name suggestions unwisely in online forums can get you into through.
NOTE: A so-called naming expert who suggests business names to you publicly in an online forum is not an expert at all. True naming experts know it is only by following a standard naming process that an effective brand name can be created—and public name suggestions in online forums aren’t part of the process.True naming experts know it is only by following a standard naming process that an effective brand name can be created—and public name suggestions in online forums aren't part of the process. Click To Tweet
It shows you’re not professional and/or serious about building a real business
Serious entrepreneurs don’t throw their responsibilities at others.
What makes it even worse is the fact you’re not taking one of your business’ most important assets seriously—your brand name.
As has already been stated earlier, if you know you cannot create an effective name for your new business yourself, the next best option is to involve a professional.
Not all the individuals who give naming advice or answer naming questions in online forums are experts. Hence, it is a bad idea to let just anybody or everybody name your business for you.
Successful business owners do take the bull by the horns and face any challenges they encounter in their businesses. One of those challenges is naming a business.
And if you can’t face a business naming challenge rightly at the beginning of your business, how are we sure you will handle many more unavoidable challenges well as the business grows?
You may end up with an ineffective brand name
All of us want to buy a product at the cheapest price, yet we want the product to be of the best quality.
But let’s be honest, has the best quality product in the market been the cheapest in the market?
Whether we want to agree or not, we generally associate higher quality to a corresponding higher monetary value. And consequently, we only want to pay more for a product if it has higher quality compared to other similar products.
That’s true about business naming. If you think just anybody can name your business for you or you can get your business name from anywhere, then expect your business to bear an ineffective name.If you think just anybody can name your business for you or you can get your business name from anywhere, then expect your business to bear an ineffective name. Click To Tweet
Most publicly-suggested business names in online forums are ineffective. Can you guess the two major reasons for this?
1. Lack of the know-how by those who give name suggestions
If you don’t know how to do a thing, teaching others how to do it will be a disaster eventually.
A lot of people who recommend names to entrepreneurs online only suggest what comes to their mind or whatever they think is good.
Besides, many entrepreneurs who suggest names to fellow entrepreneurs online often do so based on how they came about their own company names—trial and error!
Haven’t you read a familiar piece of naming advice online that says you should name your business whatever you please and however you please? In other words, you’re told what you name your business doesn’t matter and how you name it doesn’t matter!
What you name your business matters a lot and how you name it also matters a lot. Please, don’t join other entrepreneurs to learn this fact the hard and painful way—later!What you name your business matters a lot and how you name it also matters a lot. Please, don't join other entrepreneurs to learn this fact the hard and painful way—later! Click To Tweet
2. Lack of relevant details by the person who wants name suggestions
This is a very common practice, most especially among first-time entrepreneurs. They will ask people to suggest names to them, but they won’t supply the relevant details needed to suggest the desired names.
Now tell us how such people will come up with effective brand names for you. As has been established, effective brand names can never be created in a vacuum.
A name that will be suitable for your business will only be created after a lot of relevant details about your business has been put into consideration.
In fact, in many agency-level brand naming projects, you will see naming projects spanning two, three months and more. We have handled such projects before.
That’s because a lot of details will be factored in, and a lot of research will be carried out. The likes of Microsoft and Verizon will appreciate it because they know the importance of a brand name.
Can you at this point realize why we earlier wrote that real naming experts and consultants will never suggest names to entrepreneurs publicly online?
We repeat: no effective business name can be developed in a vacuum. That is, relevant business details are needed in order to create effective business names.
You and your new business will look cheap and desperate
Nobody wants to come across cheap and desperate. But that’s exactly how some people will view you when you ask for brand name suggestions publicly in online forums.
And who wants to identify with a business that has its origin traced back to online begging?. Yes, that’s what it looks like from the perspective of outsiders.
You don’t want your new brand to have a distorted and ridiculed image, do you?
Even if your brand will offer a very quality service/product, how you present it may have a negative impact on such a service/product.
People have become smarter; they want to know if you value your own brand by the way you present it online before deciding whether to identify with and/or patronize you or not.
Besides,many real naming experts and professionals like answering questions and helping people with brand naming-related problems in online forums.
However, when the question you ask or the help you want requires them to render their professional naming help free publicly, such professionals will rarely hold you in high esteem.
Do you know why?
- They earn their living by what they do—naming businesses.
- Other people are paying for the same help you’re requesting to get for free. If others do like you, the professionals will go out of business.
- It will make them look unprofessional to render such help to you free in an online, public forum. That’s because that’s not how to approach a professional or an expert in a normal business setting.
Now, how do you think many of such professionals will view you? Cheap and desperate, isn’t it?
Instead of asking for name suggestions in public, online forums , you can do the following:
- Learn about proper brand naming process.
- Create a comprehensive naming brief.
- Brainstorm as many names as possible using your naming brief.
- If you find it difficult to choose the name out of the brainstormed names, get in touch with a naming consultant to help you out.
That’s the right way to go about it.
8. Ignorantly using an online business name generator to generate your brand name
Apart from asking people to suggest names to you in online forums, ignorantly using online business name generators is another mistake you should avoid.
The primary purpose of a business name generator is to simplify—and not to replace—the brand naming process for you.The primary purpose of a business name generator is to simplify—and not to replace—the brand naming process for you. Click To Tweet
In order words, it should help make it simpler, easier and better for you to create effective names for your business.
Now, if instead of using the online tool to complement your naming efforts, you let it take over your own responsibilities, the names you will get won’t serve your business well in the long run.
The right thing to do is to create your own business naming process and only use a business name generator as part of the process. This is very important!
When you make an online name generation tool your overall naming process, then it is clear:
- you’re ignorant of the effective business naming process;
- you don’t want to own the process for creating your brand name;
- you don’t care how your business name is created;
- you have not deeply thought about the impact the created name will have on your business in the long run;
Isn’t it surprising we often don’t think things through before acting on them? Naming a business is one often one of those things.
Now, below are few ideas on how to effectively use an online business name generator.
- You can use it to brainstorm certain words that can form your name candidates after you have created your naming brief.
- You can use it to research keyword(s) to include in your brand name.
- You can use it to do different kinds of domain name search.
- You can use it to form different possible names by meshing different keywords together.
The point is this: let your use of the name generator be based on the details of your naming brief.
Also, the results you get from the name generator should not be final; instead, they should be judged against the stipulated criteria in your naming brief.
In a nutshell, the process of creating your brand name should start and end with your naming brief—not with a business name generator!The process of creating your brand name should start and end with your naming brief—not with a business name generator! Click To Tweet
Again, you can see how crucial creating a naming brief is if you want to have an effective brand name for your business.
9. Giving just about any name to your business thinking you can change it later.
If you read about the first mistake in this article, you will remember we have stated the #1 reason this mistake is common—not attaching importance to a business name.
While this particular mistake can look very minor on the surface, its implications can never be ignored.
You have probably heard of (or known) companies that have changed their names either in the past or recently.
What is your view about such name changes? It’s not a big deal, is it? Well, it’s a very big deal if you look at it critically.
Below are some of the reasons a company would change its name.
- The name is no longer relevant to the company bearing it.
- The name has not perfectly reflected what the company does or stands for.
- The company has changed business direction or it is entering a new market.
- The name is misrepresenting the company in a foreign market it has entered or within a foreign audience it is attracting.
- The radical change of an industry, caused by the advancement of industry-specific technology, has made the name of the company obsolete.
Of course, there is nothing bad in changing a brand name that is no longer serving your brand well.
However, there is no way you won’t have to change that name later in the future if the name was not a product of a well thought-out, logical process.
Ask top brands that have changed their names and you will know a name change carries with it a high risk.
The high risk is this: your business may be impacted negatively if the name change is not done properly.
Also, have you thought about the fact brands expend resources, time and energy on brand name change? That’s because a name change virtually affects all areas of a business.
Such resources, both tangible and intangible, are better spent on other aspects of your business.
But why go through the unnecessary trouble of changing your business name later when you can have a forever-relevant name once and for all?
In fact, by thinking you can always change your brand name, you have set yourself up for failure. And no successful business owner plans to fail; or have you seen one?
Therefore, make sure you settle for an effective business name that will serve you now and in the future. That will save you a lot of money, time and other resources.
10. Using a misspelt word or a misspelt version of the name of another business
We are sure you have seen one or two misspelt brand names before, haven’t you?
- Flickr (instead of Flicker)
- Lyft (instead of Lift)
- Sprynkl (instead of Sprinkle)
The above are just examples of numerous brands we have around today with misspelt names. And that many of them are successful brands doesn’t make the misspelling of their names a good excuse.
Agreed, it is no longer as easy as before to get a very effective name for your business with little or no effort. But misspelling your business name is not an antidote to that.
It is completely a counter-productive naming strategy you should not identify with.Using a misspelt word or a misspelt version of another brand name is completely a counter-productive naming strategy you should not identify with. Click To Tweet
We need to consider some of the disadvantages of this naming practice.
- It gives people the impression that you’re a copycat.
- It makes you look unserious and unprofessional.
- It makes you look desperate.
- It shows you as an entrepreneur who doesn’t value quality.
- You can be brought into a legal trademark battle and sued by the company whose brand name you have misspelled and are using.
- Your brand won’t look original and professional because your brand name will make your business look like a wrong copy of another business.
- Some of your potential customers will definitely type the correct version of your brand name when searching online, since that’s what they are used to. And if it’s a misspelt version of another brand name, that will be a plus to the other company.
- Your brand will lack brand name exclusivity, since your brand name is not an original one that is only unique to your brand.
Instead of using a misspelt brand name, try and create a unique, original, correctly-spelled brand name that will make your business stand out.Instead of using a misspelt brand name, try and create a unique, original, correctly-spelled brand name that will make your business stand out. Click To Tweet
But if you can’t do that and are tempted to settle for a misspelt name, professional help is at your beck and call. We can’t stress this enough.
11. Blindly following ineffective business naming trends when naming your business
Following naming trends are quite common these days, isn’t it?
Many business gurus and experts teach entrepreneurs to always look out for and take advantage of business trends.
As clever as that may sound, we should not forget trends come and go. A business solely built on trends without a well thought-out, long-term plan is likely to fail the test of time.A business solely built on trends without a well thought-out, long-term plan is likely to fail the test of time. Click To Tweet
That perfectly applies to business naming. Creating a brand name around a naming trend won’t do your business any good in the long run.Creating a brand name around a naming trend won't do your business any good in the long run. Click To Tweet
Below are two popular naming trends that are in vougue:
Misspelling business business names
Ending business names with suffixes such as ify, ly and able.
Since we have looked at misspelt brand names, let’s look at the other naming trends. We will use the ify suffix as an example.
What do you think is common among the following brand names?
- Taxify (now Bolt)
The ify ending, isn’t it?
Be honest, you like the way they sound when pronounced, don’t you? Actually, there is nothing inherently wrong with ending your business name with ify.
However, something is wrong when you end your brand name with ify just because other companies are doing it. Do you know why?
When following a brand naming trend becomes your top priority as you create your brand name, having an original name that is unique to your business may be a problem.
That’s because your business name will not exhume originality; instead, it will look similar to those of other brands.
In fact, a worse implication is that when that particular naming trend you followed goes with time, your business name becomes somewhat outdated. And that might affect your brand in a way.
One of the major reasons many entrepreneurs follow naming trends is to see if the success of top brands can rub off on their own fledgling brands by copying their names’ suffixes.
The idea is that bearing names that are in way similar to those of top brands could attract attention, especially that of the media, to them.
Contrary to their expectations, such copying startups tend to be in the shadows of the brands they have copied.
And making that worse is the fact the media often labels such lesser-known brands as copycats. We are sure you don’t want to be labelled a copycat of another business by the press, do you?
Besides, when a thing becomes too common, it soon loses authenticity and exclusivity. That’s right about a naming trend.Following a naming trend needlessly will your brand name lose its authenticity and exclusivity. Click To Tweet
A popular example of this was Taxify. Did you know Taxify has changed its brand name to Bolt? Taxify as a brand name had become very “limiting” and would hinder the brand from entering into “non-taxi” markets.
Hence, the brand had to get itself a new name that would not be too descriptive, that it could easily scale with, and that would rightly represent it in any markets it entered.
Therefore, instead of copying a naming trend, focus on creating an original name for your business.Instead of copying a naming trend, focus on creating an original name for your business. Click To Tweet
Don’t be another something-ify or something-ly or something-able, if you don’t have to!
12. Being emotionally attached to a business name without fully ascertaining its effectiveness for your business
When people say you should go for a name that just feels right for your business, what do you think they mean? They mean a name that you’re emotionally attached to.
Yes, we are emotional beings, and our human feelings sometimes judge things rightly.
However, when it comes to naming a business the right way, there is a standard process to follow. And that means, your emotions need not be the final judge.
For instance, would you just invest $1 million in a company without following a logical, standard procedure simply because of the excitement of being a millionaire investor?
Such an investor will always make the top investment flops lists by top finance/investment blogs and publications, trust us.
Many entrepreneurs make this same mistake almost everyday when naming their businesses. That’s why their business names do not work for them.
We always educate and guide our clients when choosing the winning names for their businesses, so their choices are based on effectiveness and not on mere feelings.
How do you just choose a name to permanently represent your business based on feelings without ascertaining its effectiveness for your business?
Just because a name merely sounds catchy, you think it is the best for your new brand. Don’t you know there is more to a brand name than its catchiness?
For your information, there are 20 basic qualities that an effective brand name possesses; catchiness is just one of them.
If your business name lacks any of the 20 basic qualities, it will be less effective.
Do you know why those qualities matter? It is because an effective name is an effective free marketing tool for your business.An effective name is an effective free marketing tool for your business. Click To Tweet
Hence, before you become emotionally attached to a brand name, make sure it possesses all the basic qualities of an effective brand name.
13. Not making your business name client/user-friendly
By making your business name client/user-friendly, we don’t mean having a very descriptive name. What we mean is having a startup name that makes it easy for your prospective customers to interact with your business.
For emphasis, your brand name should make brand interaction easier for your target audience.JYour brand name should make brand interaction easier for your target audience. Click To Tweet
And that doesn’t happen when your business name is not client-friendly.
Now, how do you know a client-friendly name? It is very simple. Please, answer the following three questions:
- Is your brand name not difficult to spell?
- Is your brand name not difficult to pronounce?
- Is your brand name not difficult to remember?
Simply put, a client-friendly business name is a name that is very easy to spell, pronounce and remember.A client-friendly business name is a name that is very easy to spell, pronounce and remember. Click To Tweet
When your business name has these three qualities, your business marketing problem is solved to a large extent.
Don’t forget we have stated that an effective brand name is an effective free marketing tool for your business. Please, note the word free because that’s just the fact.
When your company name is memorable, pronounceable and easily spelled—coupled with a quality product/service—you will surely enjoy free marketing.When your company name is memorable, pronounceable and easily spelled—coupled with a quality product/service—you will surely enjoy free marketing. Click To Tweet
One of the benefits that will come your way is the word of mouth marketing your clients—and others that have heard about you—will do for you.
For instance, just take a look at our brand name Thinkony for a few seconds. What’s your honest impression about it? Very easy to spell, pronounce and remember, isn’t it?
And you won’t find it difficult mentioning it to others even on the phone. That’s because it is client-friendly.
Besides, have you seen a situation in which a journalist or blogger is fond of mentioning the same brand regularly in his/her articles, just because of the brand’s name?
You may think such a writer has been paid or bribed to do so. It is not always so. Yes, competing brands may be worthy of such mentions, too, but finding this brand’s name unique has made the difference.
Isn’t that free marketing for a lesser-known brand—if you are aware of the unique traffic potentials of Quora—for the brands so mentioned?
And imagine a Quora answer that has your brand name cited going viral and being republished by a top publication, such as Forbes, that has partnered with Quora! That would give your brand a boost, won’t it?
Never underestimate the power and potentials of a business name that is easy to spell, pronounce and remember.Never underestimate the power and potentials of a business name that is easy to spell, pronounce and remember. Click To Tweet
Therefore, the client-friendlier your brand name becomes, the better it is for your business in terms of brand interaction, brand recognition, customer attraction and conversion.The client-friendlier your brand name becomes, the better it is for your business in terms of brand interaction, brand recognition, customer attraction and conversion. Click To Tweet
14. Using an unnecessarily very long name for your business
Does the length of your business name matter? Yes, it does.
Have you noticed that the names of many of today’s top brands are not more than 10 letters long? Yes, you read that right.
Below are 20 of such brand names:
For your information, it’s not just a merely noticeable pattern; rather, it is for a good reason.
Shorter brand names perform better than the longer ones when we take the attention span of an average Internet user into consideration.Shorter brand names perform better than the longer ones when we take the attention span of an average Internet user into consideration. Click To Tweet
How do you interact with very long business names? You first of all think of how many seconds it will take you to type it into the search bar of your browser, don’t you?
If it takes you more time than it should to type that brand name, you then probably consider a competitor with a shorter brand/domain name that even offers a better product.
The reality behind this common customer behaviour is premised on two basic customer expectations, namely:
- It should take as little time as possible to shop online.
- The online shopping process should be as simple, easy and straight forward as possible.
Longer brand names takes more time than is necessary to type into the search bar. Consequently, they make the customer conversion process more difficult to complete.
On the other hand, shorter brand names take less time to type into the search bar and, consequently, they simplify the customer conversion process.
Then, how long should your brand name be?
Ideally, your brand name should not be more than 10 letters long. But if it needs to be longer, it should not be more than 15 letters long.Ideally, your brand name should not be more than 10 letters long. But if it needs to be longer, it should not be more than 15 letters long. Click To Tweet
However, as much as your brand name shouldn’t be longer than necessary, it shouldn’t also be shorter than necessary. We suggest the minimum of 3 letters.
There is no point in having a business name just 1 or 2 letters long when you know a longer one will be better.
Your brand name should have enough letters to perfectly represent your brand and reflect what makes it relevant to your target audience. That’s the idea.
To re-emphasize the length of your brand name, target between 3 and 10 letters. But when a longer brand name is necessary, don’t exceed 15 letters.Target between 3 and 10 letters. But when a longer brand name is necessary, don't exceed 15 letters. Click To Tweet
Now, you know how the length of your business name can impact the success of your business. The shorter, the better.
15. Integrating numbers into your brand name wrongly
Adding numbers to your brand name thinking they will make it look creative is another wrong naming strategy.
To start with, every letter or number that makes up your brand name must be there for a genuine purpose.Every letter or number that makes up your brand name must be there for a genuine purpose. Click To Tweet
Of course, numbers could add aesthetics and/or creativity to your business name, yet that shouldn’t be their primary purpose.
Before having a number as part of your startup name, please, ensure to answer the following questions:
Will your target audience find the number relevant or distracting?
Did you know the number 4 is associated with the word “death” in the Chinese culture?
Now, if you’re a non-Chinese business targeting a Chinese audience, using 4 in your brand name is enough to chase away your potential clients.
Do you still remember what we wrote earlier about having a client-friendly business name? Adding wrong numbers to your brand name will render it unfriendly.Adding wrong numbers to your brand name will render it unfriendly. Click To Tweet
Therefore, be mindful of your target audience when deciding on using numbers in your brand name.
Do you need it at all?
Don’t force a number on your brand name if it is not needed.Don't force a number on your brand name if it is not needed. Click To Tweet
The example of the impression of the Chinese about 4 is also applicable here. If your target audience doesn’t like it, then you don’t need it.
Copying others ignorantly in this matter is only a sign you don’t know what you’re doing.
Even if numbers are working for other business names, it may not work for yours. Instead of copying others, be yourself and try to know what works for you.
Besides, adding numbers to a business name is not compulsory. You will even do better without them—in most cases.
Don’t forget, if your business name doesn’t need numbers, don’t use them.
If you need it, what specific, important role will it play in the name?
Are you confident your brand name will do better with numbers integrated into it? Then, there should be a relevant role they will play in the name.
For instance, the 21 in Forever21 is to demonstrate a unique experience to be enjoyed by the customers of the clothing brand: youthfulness.
In other words, the message creatively passed across by Forever21 via the 21 is that you will look young when you sport their designs.
When the numbers in your company name have a unique brand message to pass across, it is then they are needed.When the numbers in your company name have a unique brand message to pass across, it is then they are needed. Click To Tweet
Will it fit in to the beginning, middle or end of your brand name?
This is very important. Where you put the numbers in your business name matters.
Having the 21 at the end of Forever21 is a very effective strategy. By having it in that position, the emphasis is perfectly on the youthfulness message of the brand.
On the other hand, putting numbers in a wrong position in your brand name may communicate a wrong brand message.Putting numbers in a wrong position in your brand name may communicate a wrong brand message. Click To Tweet
Note the position of 29 in Refinery29, the American digital media and entertainment site that is focused on young women for instance.
If you write it as 29Refinery instead, many people will even take it as a mistake thinking you meant 29Refinaries or 29 Refineries.
Can you see how positioning numbers in a brand name can change the message of the brand bearing the name?
Another major reason you should be cautious of using numbers in your brand name is the mental confusion they often make people have.Another major reason you should be cautious of using numbers in your brand name is the mental confusion they often make people have. Click To Tweet
Let’s assume your brand is named FiftyThree and you always tell people about it on the phone or on your podcast. What primary question do you think listeners will be asking in their head?
It would be something like this: “Is it ‘53’ or ‘FiftyThree?’ ” Now that’s a mental confusion.
And when you find yourself always telling people, “It is ‘FiftyThree’ not ‘53,’ ” it’s high time you changed the name!
That mental confusion will hurt your word of mouth marketing efforts in the long run.
Hence, it is better to have a brand name that has no numbers than to negatively impact your brand with one with numbers.It is better to have a brand name that has no numbers than to negatively impact your brand with one with numbers. Click To Tweet
But, if you still need numbers, put the above practical tips in mind.
16. Using an unsuitable initialism or acronym as your brand name
Despite the two being commonly referred to as acronyms, there is a little difference between an initialism and an acronym.
An initialism is a word created from the first letters of each word in a phrase. It can only be pronounced letter by letter, and not as a word.
Below are popular examples of initialisms:
On the other hand, an acronym is a pronounceable word created from the first letters of each word in a phrase.
Popular examples of acronyms include the following:
From the above definitions, we can see that whereas an acronym can be pronounced as a word, an initialism can only be pronounced letter by letter.
Ideally, you need neither an initialism nor an acronym if your brand name is not more than 15 letters long.
Usually, a business adopts an acronym or initialism when it has a name made up of three or more long words.
People should be able to interact with your real business name and not just with its initialism or acronym.People should be able to interact with your real business name and not just with its initialism or acronym. Click To Tweet
Besides, not every business can achieve the same level of success IBM and IKEA have achieved as an initialism and an acronym respectively.
Even with the global recognition of initialism IBM and acronym IKEA, many people still don’t know their full meaning.
That’s why you will do better as a small business to have a short name that your target audience can easily interact with.
However, if you still need either an initialism or an acronym for your company name at the end of the day, consider the following tips:
Target a 3-letter initialism for your business
The shorter your initialism, the better for your brand. Your potential clients can easily memorize it and even mention it to others through word of mouth.
In other to do this, it is obvious your brand name will not have more than three words/terms in it.
What is common to all the above famous initialisms is the fact they have just 3 letters each.
Not that you can’t have a longer 4-letter, 5-letter initialism, however, making things easier and simpler for your target audience is key to business success.
If you want a 4-letter (or longer) initialism, then go for an acronym instead
Because of its pronounceability, people can quickly get used to your acronym and tell others about it.
That’s why it is better to use a 4-letter acronym rather than a 4-letter initialism.It is better to use a 4-letter acronym rather than a 4-letter initialism. Click To Tweet
For instance, if your brand acronym is STEM, it takes less time for a person to tell another person about it, compared to STMS. You can practicalize it yourself.
Or would you rather spell STEM letter by letter instead of pronouncing it as a word? Definitely no!
Therefore, we advise you go for a pronounceable 4-letter acronym instead of an unpronounceable 4-letter initialism.
Carefully choose the letters that make up your initialism or acronym
This can be easily overlooked—to your disadvantage.
Let’s look at the examples below:
Compare the above initialisms with the ones below:
What do you notice? The second set of initialisms are easier to memorize and retain than the first set, isn’t it?
This seemingly simple fact can have a great impact—either positive or negative—on your business.
Some letters of the Alphabet such as A, B, C, I, M, N, R, T, are softer on the ear and are easier to remember when used together as acronyms or initialisms than others such as Q, V, X, Z.
Therefore, you can use the softer ones to form your brand name’s initialism or acronym.
Again, that means you will need to choose the words that form your brand name accordingly.
NOTE: To use the harder ones effectively, you can mix them with the softer ones. QPR and ZIP are examples.
17. Not knowing what your brand name means in other languages when targeting an international audience
This is one of the common mistakes among those entrepreneurs, who think what you name your business doesn’t matter.
In fact, it is one of the major reasons they later change their company names.
Here is an illustration to easily drive home the point.
There are certain words that could damage your brand or make you lose potential customers in the Nigerian market.
One of such words is ole. Although it may connote something positive in other countries such as Norway, in Nigeria it is not.
In Yoruba language, one of the three major Nigerian dialects, ole means a thief.
Despite the negative news you read about Nigerians online, Nigerians are still one of the most hardworking and honest peoples on earth—do your research!
Now, if your brand name is ole and you’re targeting Nigerian buyers, your brand will fail because of one or all of the following thoughts they will have against you:
- You’re indirectly calling yourself and/or your brand a thief.
- You’re insulting their personality by indirectly connecting them to a brand that has labelled itself a dubious brand.
- You’re insulting their intelligence by thinking they are too ignorant to identify and reject a brand that exhibits negative connotations.
A word that means life in your language may mean death in another person’s language.
No doubt you wouldn’t want to experience the implications of brand misrepresentation in other languages via your brand name
That’s why you should use such voice search tools as Google Translate, Alexa and Cortana to save your brand such trouble.
Understanding your international target audience and what your brand name means in its language is very important if you want to avoid brand misrepresentation.Understanding your international target audience and what your brand name means in its language is very important if you want to avoid brand misrepresentation. Click To Tweet
18. Using the wrong type of brand name for your business
Did you know there are 4 basic types of brand names? And each of these brand name types tends to be more appropriate for one business than the other.
If you use the wrong type of brand name for your business, your brand name will work against you instead of working for you.If you use the wrong type of brand name for your business, your brand name will work against you instead of working for you. Click To Tweet
Your business name should naturally be an effective marketing tool for your business. Having the wrong name type will prevent that from happening.
Now, let’s briefly look at these basic types of brand names and examples of businesses that can use them.
Experiential brand names
These are brand names that creatively give a glimpse of the type of experience a consumer will have after consuming certain products.
The brands that can use experiential brand names include food brands, candy brands, brands selling health products, etc.If you use the wrong type of brand name for your business, your brand name will work against you instead of working for you. Click To Tweet
Descriptive brand names
Descriptive brand names directly inform potential customers what their respective brands do.
The brands that will find such brand names appropriate include handyman services, home repair brands, electronic manufacturing/repair brands, legal brands, hospitals, charitable organizations, government agencies, etc.
If your brand has to do with physical appliances, offers very technical and essential services, cares about social issues, etc., a descriptive name can be a fit.If your brand has to do with physical appliances, offers very technical and essential services, cares about social issues, etc., a descriptive name can be a fit. Click To Tweet
That’s because a well-known industry/niche keyword needs to be in your brand name.
However, you need not be too descriptive so your brand name can scale with you if you later change business direction or add newer, completely different services/products.
Just be creatively and effectively descriptive, and you will be fine.
Squadhelp is a good example of a brand name that is both creatively and effectively descriptive.
Evocative brand names
Just as the word implies, evocative brand names evoke certain emotions in the minds of the targeted group of people.
The kinds of brands that find evocative brand names effective are fashion brands, luxury goods brands, etc.
How do you feel when you sport a designer shirt or a pair of designer shoes made by a globally-known brand or celebrity? You feel special, privileged and even proud, isn’t it?
For instance, when you see or hear the brand name Gucci you tend to associate its products with the rich and famous.
If your brand intends to evoke a certain emotion in people, such as making them feel proud of themselves when they use your product, consider using an evocative name.If your brand intends to evoke a certain emotion in people, such as making them feel proud of themselves when they use your product, consider using an evocative name. Click To Tweet
Invented brand names
Also known as made-up or coined names, invented brand names pique people’s curiosity and interest in a business, so you end up interacting with the business.
Being relevant always and its ability to scale with a business are two of the unique qualities of an invented brand name.Being relevant always and its ability to scale with a business are two of the unique qualities of an invented brand name. Click To Tweet
The brands that can effectively use made-up names include tech companies, e-commerce brands, online businesses, etc.
Interestingly, invented business names are the commonly used types of brand names today because of its unique qualities.
Are you, therefore, planning to found a tech company, an e-commerce brand, an online business, etc.? An invented brand name will be appropriate for you.If you're planning to found a tech company, an e-commerce brand, an online business, etc., an invented brand name will be appropriate for you. Click To Tweet
Using the right type of brand name can simplify your brand marketing efforts as well as help you connect with your target audience more effectively.Using the right type of brand name can simplify your brand marketing efforts as well as help you connect with your target audience more effectively. Click To Tweet
19. Using the wrong name mood for your business name
The mood of of your business name will determine, to an extent, how your potential clients will view your business, interact with it and decide whether to patronize you or not.The mood of of your business name will determine, to an extent, how your potential clients will view your business, interact with it and decide whether to patronize you or not. Click To Tweet
Basically there are three name moods, namely: serious, fanciful and funny.
Your target audience and how you want them to view your brand will determine the mood of your brand name.
Serious name mood
If there is a problem your business has a needed solution for, then your business name should have the serious mood.
Having a serious name mood makes your brand name attractive to the people who are seriously in need of the solution you offer.Having a serious name mood makes your brand name attractive to the people who are seriously in need of the solution you offer. Click To Tweet
That’s why most of today’s brand names have the serious mood.
Your company name ought to reflect the seriousness of the solution your company offers.Your company name ought to reflect the seriousness of the solution your company offers. Click To Tweet
Besides, having a serious name mood makes you look competitive among your competitors. A dying patient won’t go to a comedian, will he/she?
Hence, it is quite surprising to see a company competing with Google choose a funny name mood: DuckDuckGo!
DuckDuckGo is a search engine company that has been one of Google‘s competitors. But its name has been a challenge.
When you go to Quora and type DuckDuckGo into the platform’s search bar, you will see how people have questioned the company’s choice of that name.
It doesn’t sound like the name of a company that can give one of the most successful and biggest brands in the world a run for its money, does it?
To attract the attention of serious clients and/or to compete well with other brands in your industry/niche, your brand name must present you as a serious brand.To attract the attention of serious clients and/or to compete well with other brands in your industry/niche, your brand name must present you as a serious brand. Click To Tweet
Fanciful name mood
The fanciful name mood makes your business name look a little unique and different from the normal business names people are used to.The fanciful name mood makes your business name look a little unique and different from the normal business names people are used to. Click To Tweet
Also, fanciful brand names tend to appeal to people of a certain age range such as teenagers and millennials, who like to identify with brands that look uniquely different.
Do you still remember Forever21? The 21 in the brand name makes it fanciful, because it appeals to young people or people who want to look young always. Refinery29 has the same appeal.
Generally, brands that employ the fanciful mood often target the younger, fanciful, ambitious, etc., individuals.
You can have a brand name that has the fanciful mood by:
- creating an invented brand name in a creative way by meshing descriptive words together (e.g. YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram).
- strategically adding numbers to your brand name creatively (e.g. Forever21, Refinery29, Cloud9)
- making one of the letters of your brand name stand out creatively (e.g. eBay, iPhone).
NOTE: A fanciful brand name is still a serious brand name that has been made to look more creative and unique. It is not compulsory you have it.
Funny name mood
This is self-explanatory. A funny name mood makes a brand name look funny.
If you’re targeting serious or corporate clients, please, don’t use this mood for your business name.
But if your brand is in the comedy industry, of course, you don’t need to sound like Google.
Please, don’t get us wrong; a comedy business is a serious business. In fact, your business can be about making very busy CEOs feel relaxed through your kind of comedy.
To have a funny brand name doesn’t mean to look or sound stupid as a brand. Rather, it means to have a brand name that will tell people your brand will put them into a less serious, relaxed and happy mood.To have a funny brand name doesn't mean to look or sound stupid as a brand. Rather, it means to have a brand name that will tell people your brand will put them into a less serious, relaxed and happy mood. Click To Tweet
For instance, if you were seeing the brand name Google for the first time, would you expect it to represent a comedy company?
But would you expect a brand named DuckDuckGo to represent a search engine company?
The point is, DuckDuckGo looks too funny to represent a serious brand. You could even mistake it for a comic brand for children, are we lying?
NOTE: Projecting DuckDuckGo as a less effective brand name in this article is not to belittle the search engine company. We are only trying to say the brand name could have been more effective for a different type of business.
Make sure your brand name has the right type of mood that you will want your target audience to identify with your brand. Otherwise, you need a brand name change.Make sure your brand name has the right type of mood that you will want your target audience to identify with your brand. Otherwise, you need a brand name change. Click To Tweet
20. Choosing the wrong domain name for your business name
The choice of your domain name will either enhance or thwart your brand building efforts.The choice of your domain name will either enhance or thwart your brand building efforts. Click To Tweet
In fact, your domain name should complement the marketability of your brand name. They are like twin brothers, who have complementary personalities.
That informs the importance of securing an exact match domain (EMD) for your brand name. It saves you a lot of money, resources, etc., down the line.
When your domain name is different from your business name, it becomes difficult to build and project a consistent brand across all platforms.When your domain name is different from your business name, it becomes difficult to build and project a consistent brand across all platforms. Click To Tweet
For example, this mistake is common among some app creators. They like adding the keyword app to their domain names. This is a wrong strategy.
Usually, if you create an app, you’re expected to use the all-relevant keyword app in your copy alongside other keywords relevant to what your app does.
It is even common to use the word app many times throughout the copy on your landing page—provided you don’t overuse it. That will keep your readers reminded they are reading about an app.
Don’t forget your app has a name, doesn’t it?
Then, adding app to your app’s name to form your domain name can be counter-productive. Do you know why?
Most people expect your domain name to match your business name. Hence, an average searcher tends to type yourappname(dot)com—without adding app to it—into the search bar.
But if you add app to your domain name—for instance, yourappnameapp(dot)com—you may be loosing the organic traffic you’re supposed to be receiving and money.
What’s worse? If a domain squatter should notice this mistake of yours, he/she will be making free traffic and money off you by simply registering yourappname(dot)com.
This applies to all kinds of businesses; we just used an app business as an illustration.
Granted, securing an exact match domain is sometimes difficult. In fact, you have to pay a huge sum of money to secure one at times.
However, learning how to create effective startup names or hiring professional help can minimize, if not remove, that difficulty.
There will always be availability of effective brand names and their exact match domains; you’re only required to know how to find and use them.
Furthermore, we advise you steer clear of misspelt domain names, just as you should misspelt business names. They will only damage your brand and hurt your marketing efforts.
Choose the right domain name for your company name; it will make building a successful and consistent brand easier for you—among other benefits.Choose the right domain name for your company name; it will make building a successful and consistent brand easier for you—among other benefits. Click To Tweet
21. Using a hyphen in your domain name
You have probably come across some hyphenated domain names, haven’t you?
A hyphenated domain name is a domain name that has a hyphen in-between the (mostly 2) words that make it up.
In other words, a hyphenated domain name usually contains two words. The hyphen is then inserted in-between the words.
Most of the time, a hyphenated domain name is a version of an existing domain name. For instance, face-book(dot)com is a hyphenated version of facebook.com.
Putting hyphens in domain names is increasingly becoming popular as many desired domain names are being taken.
Often, entrepreneurs hyphenate their domain names, because they think they might not find other domains that can be as suitable.
However, Just as a misspelt version of another domain name is not effective, a hyphenated version of an existing domain name is also not effective.
- Your domain name won’t be original, just like a misspelt domain name.
- Since most people expect your domain name to match your brand name, you will be losing organic traffic.
- You may run into a legal fight with the company whose domain name you have hyphenated.
- It will cause confusion for your potential clients.
- It will hurt your brand marketing efforts —especially your word of mouth marketing.
- Your brand may lose trust and respect when people find out your domain name is a hyphenated version of another business’ domain name.
Although it is very easy to hyphenate a domain name, its disadvantages far outnumber its advantages (if any).Although it is very easy to hyphenate a domain name, its disadvantages far outnumber its advantages (if any). Click To Tweet
Instead of hyphenating an already taken domain name to make it yours, you can take one of the following 2 steps:
- Approach the person or business using it and see if you can buy it.
- Let go of it and look for an original domain name that you won’t need to hyphenate.
Please, run away from a hyphenated domain name as much as you can, because it will only harm your brand. Don’t forget your domain name is an integral part of your brand. Hence, it is pertinent you use the right one.
Besides, marketing a hyphenated domain name often becomes an effort in futility.
Therefore, make sure your domain name is exclusively unique to your business. Because by doing that, you will be building a brand that is truly yours.Make sure your domain name is exclusively unique to your business. Because by doing that, you will be building a brand that is truly yours. Click To Tweet
22. Not taking into consideration whether your business name is trademarkable or not
That your business name is registered doesn’t make it trademarkable.
Below is the clear difference between registering a name and trademarking it.
- Registering your brand name means you’re operating under the name. But that doesn’t give you the right of ownership over the name.
- Trademarking your brand name gives you the right of ownership over the name. It makes you the legal owner of your brand name.
Operating a business under a name you don’t own legally, poses the risk of losing your business name to another business in the event of a trademark battle.Operating a business under a name you don't own legally, poses the risk of losing your business name to another business in the event of a trademark battle. Click To Tweet
Not only that, losing your brand name is like losing your business, because it is the embodiment of your business.
The brand, trust, credibility, exposure, prestige, media coverage, customer loyalty, etc., you have built for your business through your brand name are at stake in the event of a trademark battle.
And you may loose all of them when you loose your brand name to another company.
Do you now realize why top brands don’t take infringements on their trademarks lightly? They know what a trademarked brand name means to their brands.
It is, then, wise to ensure your business name is trademarkable when creating it. Also, it shouldn’t be an infringement on another business’ trademark.
There you have them—all the major mistakes you should avoid when naming your business.
If you carefully read this article and put it to use, having a very effective brand name, instead of a bad one, for your brand shouldn’t be a problem for you.
We welcome your questions and thoughts in the Comments section below. We will gladly answer your questions because we are here to help you.
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