4 Mistakes to Avoid when Naming Your Brand

In previous articles (you can read them here and here) we’ve mentioned a few tips that you can use to name your brand or business. But so far we’ve never talked about any of the taboos; focusing on the positive side without failing to acknowledge the negative side of a choice isn’t quite the best way to start a business.

But there is no need to fear, we’ve managed to compile a few points that people commonly fall for when trying to name their brand to help you avoid them from the get go.


The Pigeon Hole

This is a very common pitfall that most startups fall into. You are just starting your business – especially if a local brand— you really think that it would do good to think only from that perspective. While making business decisions based on that train of thought is a good idea, it isn’t quite applicable for naming your brand. For example, if let’s say you started your business’ name with your local area’s name (for the sake of the example let’s use New York) and named your frozen Yogurt products; NY’s Frozen Yogurts.

At a later time when you’d like to expand you’ll find that the name may mean little if your chain expands over to New Jersey or let’s say Texas. It is one of the reasons why Kentucky Fried Chicken is now known as KFC – to reduce the emphasis over the localization they mistakenly added when starting out.

Try to always think ahead; what if your business gets franchised and the chain spans over multiple cities? Countries? Online?


Feedback Everyday

Feedback is great, it is one of your most powerful tools to asses a name – when it used right. If you are starting a new business or picking a name for your brand you most likely want to share the name with your friends, families, businesses associates and potential customers to get their feedback. While that may sound like a great idea it is a double edged weapon that may cause a big problem.

The reason behind this lies in the vision you have for your company. You are – and perhaps your business partners—are most likely the only ones who know exactly what your vision is, what your brand is about. Trying to share the name with your friends and family members for example may get you some feedback but it may not align well with what you want to do with your company. That is when focus group feedback is a great idea to start. Start small; you and your business partners or perhaps a few key employees and see how they react to the name, then expand from there if the feedback is positive. If you are a lone wolf startup then you might want to run the name by a few people from your demographic and gauge their reactions.


Literal doesn’t mean Literal

Usually the first name that comes to mind is the exact literal name of your service or product. For example if you want to name a box selling company, the first thing some will think of is BoxSell or perhaps SellBoxes. It is the classic case of Inception’s elephant quote (in case you didn’t watch the movie, you can read the quote here).

What you want to do is immediately stop thinking like that (unless of course the literal word is something so catchy and good that it can’t be passed off), try to broaden your horizons. A box selling company doesn’t have to have a name related to boxes or even selling. Look at Apple, the name has nothing to do with technology – in fact, at first whim you’d think it is the exact opposite of technology.

Which then brings the next point:


Obscure is ugly

This is a very dangerous area to trip on when choosing a name. Sometimes in the frantic process of naming your brand, service or product you end up choosing a name that relates nothing to your vision, mantra or even demographic. It is easy to fall into that trap especially after you try so many names and are either taken or are clichéd. It would definitely hurt your business in most cases as it may lead to a feeling of disconnection between your audience and your brand.

Instead, what you want to do is think outside the box of your service and perhaps deep into your vision. For example, the name Allianz (one of the largest companies that specialize in insurance) at first glance you may feel it has nothing to do with the service offered. However, if you give it a little bit of thought, you’d realize that it makes sense – the company is your ally, forging an alliance between you and the company to help you in your time of need just like an ally would.


In the eagerness to launch your startup it is easy to find yourself a prey to any of the above mistakes. Everyone is a creative (you can read our article about it here) and you are no different, by taking a step backing mixed with a slight grain of patience you can find the perfect name for your business.

Have any more advice you’d like to share? More issues you might have come across when coming up with your company name? Let us know through the comments.


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