6 mistakes to avoid when choosing a name for your business

What is in a name? When it comes to your business, almost everything. Your business name is literally the first thing potential customers will learn about you. The right name can arouse interest and pave the way for customer interaction. The wrong name fails to get on someone’s radar or, worse, becomes known for all the wrong reasons. Furthermore, while you focus your time and resources on developing your business around a new product or service, do not leave your business name neglected. Take the time to consider possible options and look for ideas with trusted friends and mentors.


Here are 6 tips on what NOT to do:


1. Base the name on your product or service.

This may seem like a good starting point, but it can also hurt you in the long run. “Magic Pleasure Trips” might sound good for a travel agency when the business is small, but as it evolves and eventually expands its range of services the name becomes restrictive and misleading.


2. Do what everyone else does.

There may be other brand signs related to your branch that are well known. You may think that it is a safe solution to use a small variation of them in order to speed up the recognition of your brand name. In this case, what will happen in the minds of your target audience is the idea that there is nothing particularly distinctive about you or your business. And if your brand cannot be different from the competition, why should someone buy from you?


3. Use your own name or family initials.

Think about it. A name like “Antonis Papadimitriou Furniture” does not bring any meaning or impact outside of a small circle of cousins, uncles and nieces. Other than that, the name is difficult for prospective customers to spell or pronounce correctly. (The reduction in initials, as in “Furniture AP”, does not make the name more memorable.)


4. Incorporate your city or region into the name.

By basing the name of your area on a product or business, what you are achieving is to link your business to a geographic area that actually limits you unnecessarily. “Cretan Travel Agency” says nothing about the quality or features that differentiate you from the competition – only that Cretans may decide to choose you. If you later expand your business or move elsewhere, a name based on a city or region can really become a big commitment.


5. Involve too many people in this decision.

Choosing a name for your business is not something you want a committee to decide. The process can take a long time and you may end up choosing a name based solely on the fact that the majority of the 35 people you consulted considered it to be “fine”. A better option is to look at your favorite ideas in collaboration with your closest professional advisors or, if you have access, with a selected number of people from the audience you are addressing.


6. Proceed without checking the trademark status.

Do not be one of those small businesses that gets stuck on the “perfect” name and start using it without doing a basic brand search. These days, it is quite easy to conduct a free online search for existing brand names. Start with a local search, then expand your search to make sure no other business in the country already has that name. Finding the right name for your business will take time, but the consequences of not doing it can be huge.

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