What Not To Do When Naming Your Business

Naming your business is the most fundamental part of starting one. It is what will be on your paperwork, your business card, your marketing materials, and most importantly, your customer’s minds when they think of your products or services. Naming is an art form, however, so it is crucial not to pick whatever you think of first or what sounds the cleverest.

Your business’s name can make or break it. Think about it: how likely are you, as a consumer, to buy something from a company that sounds ridiculous, or one you are embarrassed to confess you frequent? You do not want to be a business someone feels sheepish or guilty from interacting with, so your name should be something both you and your customers are proud to say.

Don’t waste your time

You are probably going to spend a significant amount of time devising your business name, but make sure it is not in vain. Gil Eyal from HYPR!, a member of the Forbes Agency Council, advises:

“One of the worst things that can happen to a new business is that the owners spend time and money promoting a certain name, only to find out that someone else has been using it. Even if they haven’t registered a trademark, someone might own the rights simply because they were using it first. A quick Google search is an absolute must, and you may want to supplement it with a professional trademark search.”

This step is a parallel one that lasts the entire naming process. When you think you have found the perfect title, always double-check online and with professional registries before finalizing anything. You do not want to have to start from scratch again, or worse find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit. It may also be in your best interests to use a company name generator to save time and go from there.

Don’t forget to make it unique

On a similar note, look at as many of the pre-existing business names in your industry as you can. Even if the moniker you have selected is not technically in use, that does not automatically mean it is wise to make it official. Is it too similar to another company’s name? Is it possible consumers could confuse the two of you? You want something that distinguishes you from the crowd, so sometimes it is necessary to “kill your darlings” (as writers say) and look at the big picture.

Don’t be insensitive

Some names are utterly ridiculous, and you do not want to be the butt of consumer’s jokes. Others are in outright poor taste, so when exploring puns (puns are often amusing and can make people smile), do not exploit something that marks you as insensitive. A restaurant named “Hindenburger,” for example (yes, it’s a real place) is named after a disaster in which dozens of people burned to death. The wordplay and fire theme may seem clever, but really? Likewise, a restaurant named Thai Tanic plays off the famous ship that killed over 1,500 people when it sank, so some puns are off-limits.

Don’t be too afraid of quirkiness

Working with puns is treading a fine line. Sometimes they make your eyes roll or are offensive—a seafood joint named A Salt & Battery Fish and Chips is cringeworthy—but other times they can be delightful. Another fish and chips outlet named Frying Nemo is a bit morbid, but it does not have the same insensitivity as the former. Literary puns are also an excellent way to go, like the Australian vegetarian restaurant called Lord of the Fries. You might want to smack your forehead, but it’s also fun to say.

Don’t impede your growth

Only include a specific place in your name if you plan to stay where you are. Place-specific businesses play essential roles in local cultures, but they limit themselves if they intend to grow beyond. Entrepreneur notes that a service titled “Manhattan Cleaners” will struggle to become a chain.

If you hope to expand, double-check that your name does not mean something else or have negative connotations in another language. Do not name your company “Gift,” for instance, if you ever want to do business in Germany, where the word means “poison.”

Don’t have a bad attitude

Yes, naming your business may take longer than you expect. The time will be worthwhile, though, because many bad names result from overzealousness or naive attitudes. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that your name is unimportant (which apps may be subject to because they especially rely on iconography), becoming short-sighted, or giving up if you run out of ideas. Climbing out of such predicaments detracts from the time your business could be thriving.

Even if you have had a moniker in the back of your mind for years, always double check that it is viable and valuable. Your success may depend on it. What do you plan to avoid when choosing a business name?

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