7 Mistakes When Naming Your Business

In honor of David Letterman’s recent retirement, Florida SBDC at USF Growth Acceleration Specialist David Auxier provides his list of top 10 mistakes to avoid when naming your business. Here we present 7 of those items:

7. Choosing a name too similar to your competitor’s.

I have heard this strategy a number of times in the Starting Your Business class I teach. ‘It worked for them. Why not me?’ Generally we want our clients to differentiate themselves from the competition, not mimic them. This strategy could backfire in a number of ways. The company you are mimicking could take you to court and even if you win, you lose in legal fees, time and effort. You may also unwittingly inherit your competition’s bad press or reputation. This is something that many unsavory organizations do to ride the marketing coattail of others. You don’t want to be seen in this light.

6. Using contractions and acronyms.

Chances are people won’t remember an acronym, and that is exactly why most companies only switch to using one after their brand is firmly established within their target markets and the wider marketplace.

5. Being excessively local.

Don’t paint yourself into a geographic corner. It is important to be connected to your community but take great care and don’t limit your future market by presenting your business as too quaint or homegrown. Virtually all businesses operate in a global market.

4. Using your own name.

Using your own name as company name may seem like an easy way out. As the poet Robert Frost wrote, the easy path is not always best. Using your name is indeed easy but using your name as the company name or even the base for the company name can pose problems. What if you want to sell your company some day? Does that make it easier or harder?

3. Sweating the domain name.

If you have finally arrived at the perfect name for your company and you find that the domain name is already taken, don’t sweat it. You are not alone. There are many companies that don’t own their own dot.com. Just check out nissan.com or even tesla.com. Don’t drop your perfect name just because someone else owns the domain. Be creative. Did you know that Facebook once was thefacebook.com and Dropbox was known as thedropbox.com? Things seemed to have worked out for these start-ups.

2. Using unique spellings to be different.

As much as it pains me to say it, spelling matters, especially in the era of Google. Companies spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of people hours to optimize search engine optimization and if you use a nontraditional or trendy spelling, you may have to allocate even more dollars and hours to counteract this choice.

1. Letting it paralyze your planning.

As a consultant, I work with start-up clients all the time and a major stumbling block can be choosing the name. If you find this important task slowing you down, just come back to it later in your planning process. More often the rest of the planning process can help you flesh out your company’s identity, making the naming process much easier and more organic. Clients who follow this advice say the name just came to them while doing other work.