What shouldn’t you do when naming your startup?
Choosing your new startup name is the most important first step on your way to a strong brand and gaining traction. Take the time to do this right, so you don’t have to rebrand later. There’s no time for amateur hour when your business is at stake! Here are the most common business naming errors, blunders, and mistakes a new startup founder can make.
Rushing the process
We know that you’re excited to get your name out with a new logo and website, but please, take your time. It can be pretty easy to go with the first thing that pops into your head, but often, that’s not the best. And there are some services out there on the internet world where you can pick a fancy-sounding name, complete with its own logo and registered domain, but if it doesn’t “say” who you are, you’ll just be wasting your money.
Not enough ideas
The best place to start is writing a list of possible names for your startup. If you find yourself with one or two names that you love, force yourself to come up with a lot more to make sure that you aren’t missing something. Plus, you’ll probably be crossing most off your list as you continue reading.
Going Old School
Once upon a time when everyone advertised in the yellow pages of a phonebook, many advertisers would try to come up with a name that started with an “A” so that their business would be listed first. That’s not how things work anymore.
Being a Copycat
Some founders, and you know who they are, think they’re really clever to create a business name that sounds like another business. Not only is it tacky, but it will also confuse your customers. This also goes for logos like look another company’s logo. Copying might be the biggest form of flattery, but it is a terrible business practice. Fictional examples might include:
IHOW or International House of Waffles, Lazy Girl, Dairy King, Sports Cuts.
Ignoring Spell Check
Hopefully you already know how to spell the name of your startup, so what we’re talking about here is something a bit different. For instance, If someone told you that they bought the best new children’s game at Toys R Us, but you never heard of the store before, you might do search for “Toys Are Us.” You would still find what you are looking for, but you might wonder if “toysrus.com” was the right site you were looking for. Nobody plans to do a Google search using misspelled words on purpose.
Sometimes a name might roll off your tongue in a very exquisite way, but if others can’t understand it or even pronounce the name, you might want to think again. And sometimes an unusual name can work wonders for a creative company, but chances are, you just want to sell your gadgets and gizmos. An example might be K-Mart. We are all familiar with the store today, but can you imagine what it was like when the company first opened its doors? What does K-Mart even mean? Remember, the less descriptive your name, the more effort it takes you to get people to understand it. This means you’ll spend more time and Marketing dollars, so simple is better
So, if you think that you’ve settled on Bob’s Bakery and your website is to be called BobsBakery.com, you’ll want to check and see if that domain name is available. One of the plusses of the internet is that no two businesses can have the same domain name, but if the name you want is already taken, then you’ll have to come up with something else. In this case, Bob might want to change his company name to Bob’s Bakery Bliss. Also, don’t wait until the end of the process to see if your name is available or chances are you’ll have to start all over again.
Being Loooooooong Winded
How’s this for a name: “Microsoft Windows Server Base Operating Systems Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager 2005.” On the plus side, we have a pretty good idea what this product is. On the minus side, we’ll never remember the name. Ever. Short and sweet still rules.
Innocent sounding business names can be ruined when websites are created for them. For instance:
“Choose Spain” becomes “choosespain.com” (Chooses Pain?)
“PJ’s Limo” becomes “pjslimo.com” (PJ Slimo?)
“Dog Grooming” becomes “doggrooming.com” (Dogg Rooming?)
No Room to Grow
While it is always a good idea to narrow down your business name to something simple so that others know exactly what you’re selling, it is possible be too descriptive. For example, the Dollar Shave Club sells inexpensive razors. They might sell other things as well, but we aren’t aware of them. Harry’s has a similar business, but they offer a premium bathroom brand. Yes, the name is somewhat vague, but in the long run, it works for them. Staples has a great name in that know right off the bat that they are an office supply store and while we can be pretty sure that we’ll find staples for our stapler, we know that we will also find many other “office staples” as well.
Too Close to Home
Just because your business, Tony’s Tulips in Tulalip, is the only tulip-selling store in Tulalip, you won’t be doing yourself any favors when it comes to the internet. You can reach anyone everywhere on the planet, but if you include “Tulalip” in your name, folks in Tennessee might skip you altogether.
No Test Run
If you can narrow your choices down to two or three, it might be a good idea to ask your friends and family which name resonates with them. You could have an idea to sell donut holes and call your business The Hole in the Wall, but if your friends can’t catch the vision, chances are, your potential customers won’t either.