As Shakespeare Put It: 8 Common Business-Naming Mistakes

As Shakespeare Put It: 8 Common Business-Naming Mistakes

What’s in a name?  A lot, actually.  When you’re deciding on the word that’ll stick into any potential customer’s head when they first hear about your product.  You may be further on your way to choosing the right name for your business by avoiding these eight mistakes:

  1. Trying to outsmart a successful large company by using a clever knock-off of its name. Big companies have expensive lawyers, and as an entrepreneur, you probably don’t. Keep this in mind even when designing your logo—the number of lawsuits involving cases where a certain famous mouse’s image was used either deliberately or accidentally is nearly legion!

  2. Using personal or family names. Unless it is your intention to keep the business forever in the family, just don’t do it. It’s more likely that you’ll want to sell the business at some point, and a name that you have branded will add to the value. Unless, of course, you’re like the someone who came up with the idea for that famous mouse and get immensely lucky.

  3. Choosing a name that’s difficult to spell or pronounce. Avoid homophones like to, too, and two, as they may be misinterpreted or misspelled in searches. Imagine, if you will, the shock of someone searching the Web for a line of children’s pants that you cleverly named “Bear Bottoms.” The PR you’d receive would be the stuff of legends, but that’s not the kind of press you want your product to encourage.

  4. Not researching what the name could mean in a foreign language like Spanish, French, or German. Opening a restaurant with the name “The Gate” may seem harmless enough until your realize the word means “spoiled” in French.

  5. Not performing an Internet search. Make sure the reputation of any similarly named company is solid. You don’t want people thinking your company is a similar one with a horrible reputation. (We’ve wisely decided not to give any examples, but please don’t name your investment firm Madoff & Madoff)

  6. Using a geographic location in your name. You may not always be on Main Street, and you may grow bigger than Smithville. Don’t create a name that could stunt your growth or cause problems in relocation.

  7. Don’t use outdated thinking in creating your name. In the days of phonebook yore, it used to be popular to use names like “A-something” or “Acme” or “Apex.” Naming your business something like this simply no longer applies and also looks pretty tacky.

  8. Don’t create a name that will only have meaning for you. It may serve as personal motivation through the inevitable tough times, but it will not likely help your business establish its brand. Hairball Harry’s Dog Groomers may have a ring to it in your own ears, but clients will probably bring their poodles to the other side of town.

What’s in a name? Perhaps more than what may first appear. Discovering the “perfect” business may come easier for some than for others. Avoiding these eight mistakes can set you on the right path!


Follow Adam on Twitter: @thebizguy

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