5 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Company
Your Name Is At The Core Of Your Brand. Name Accordingly!
What’s in a name? A lot. Your reputation . . . namely. When you set out to name your business there are some common . . . mishaps. . . we think you should set out to avoid. To help, we are spelling them out for you.
1. Using Your Own Name (I.E. Bananas by Bennie)
Why not use your own name? You are the owner of the business after all! The cornerstone of its foundation. The engine that makes it run! Well, we'll tell you why not. Your business is going to grow, and it's going to transcend even you. You want your audience to associate your business with goods, services and the experiences it provides . . . not so much with the owner. Your brilliance will find its recognition, we promise.
2. Using Geography/Location (I.E. Southwest Cactus Farm)
It's one thing to be inspired by your location. After all, one of the most globally recognized brands of all time, Starbucks, chose its name with an ode to adventure on the open seas, which makes great sense for a company founded in a port city, in sight of Puget Sound. But, it didn't include the name Seattle (or Puget) in its brand name. We recommend to entrepreneurs that they choose a name that transcends location, and instead inspires thoughts/feelings relevant to their industry, or the experience they are in the business to deliver.
Sometimes, we find, that including your locality in your name can create a sense that you only operate in certain areas - which can be limiting. Starbucks could have chosen to keep on location in Seattle, or maybe open a dozen, but instead they spread out - really spread out - and they equipped themselves with a name that let them do that seamlessly (in terms of branding).
3. Including a Personal Touch . . . That No One Else Gets (I.E. Swans Garden Roast)
What's the difference between choosing a name that reminds you of your location (see Starbucks above) and a name with a personal touch? Often, we find the personal touch can be so obscure to others that it dilutes your brand's meaning. Also, in Starbucks defense, the name is evocative of adventure, more than of the open seas, or specifically Puget Sound. Sometimes there are opportunities to embed tidbits in the name of your company/brand that are meaningful to you, that don't obscure your identity/mission. At the end of the day, the name of your business is not meant to serve you personally, but instead professionally, and to help your audience understand what kind of experience they will have when engaging with you.
4. Going generic (I.E. ABC Quality Care)
This is the binary opposite of making your brand name too personal. Going generic runs a number of risks: Your brand won't be taken seriously; Your brand will be potentially seen as spam, and not a legitimate business to learn more about/engage with; Your brand will be seen as hollow - lacking substance, or character by which to define the experience you're meant to provide. A generic name will leave your marketers uninspired and your branders a bit bemused. You can still be unique while avoiding the four mishaps described so far.
5. ANYTHING COPYRIGHTED
You'd be surprised how many well-intentioned, brilliant, wildly talented business owners make the mistake of naming their business after an already established company. In their defense, it's a large world we live in.
Check to make sure the name you want to give your business isn't already in use. To start, run a few Google searches to see who is out there. Then, check with your state government. Every state keeps a list of registered businesses. Run through that list and make sure your future business has a unique name. The last thing you want is start-up capital going to defend your name because it too closely (or is exactly) resembles an established business.
When in doubt - consult a lawyer! Better safe than sorry.
The name of your business is at the core of everything that it does. It's featured in all of your branding and marketing, in print, on the web, spoken aloud and heard. It's important. Choose a good one and run forward from there!