By Amos Onwukwe
Do you want to choose a business name for your new startup or business idea? Good thing you’re reading this article, it will save you headaches and avoidable stress down the line.
When choosing a business name, many entrepreneurs commit certain business name mistakes that haunt them down their entrepreneurial journey. These 25 mistakes can cost you time, money or both… plus some. Hence learning to avoid them beforehand is indeed a smart business move.
This post is poised to do just that — help you identify and eliminate such hidden mistakes and the corresponding consequences that might arise if you do not get business name selection right.
Your business name is key to your brand identity and brand awareness. Statistics say there are over 28.8 million (and counting) registered small businesses in the U.S. alone. Each of these businesses is identified by customers, the SBA, investors, competitors, etc. via their business or company name.
At the time of registration, your business name could cost you a few bucks or possibly nothing, in some countries. However, if you become successful and forget to claim your associated domain name, for instance, you’d have to pay heavily to buy it in the secondary market from a smarter entrepreneur.
Cars.com was reportedly sold for $872 million! This is why you need a good business name from day one. When I think of cars, even if I’ve never heard of cars.com, I naturally type cars.com as my starting point. In my thinking, if they have the domain, then they have the requisite domain knowledge.
A good business name will:
- Position you top of mind for searchers
- Secure your dot com spot
- Give you brand awareness and recognition
- Be easy for customers to recall
- Be easy to spell
- Be easy to spread by word of mouth
10 Big Business Naming Mistakes
The following are some of the biggest, yet often hidden mistakes you should avoid when deciding on a business name for your venture.
1. Not Articulating Business Goals and Objectives
A good company name should encapsulate your business goals, objectives, vision or mission. If you’re unable to clearly articulate yours, then it it will be difficult to choose a business name that will truly fit.
So first things first; clearly establish your business goals and objectives.
2. Hiring Business Name Experts Who Don’t Fully Understand #1
Yes, you’ve done your part articulating your business goals, objectives, mission and vision, but unfortunately your business name expert still doesn’t fully get it.
If s/he doesn’t get it (your core mission, vision), they will not get the naming right. So, first, articulate it; next, communicate it clearly. After the brief, request your expert or consultant to recap.
3. Not Fully Appreciating Cost of Changing a Business Name
When you or your business name expert doesn’t fully understand the real cost of business name change, you won’t put the effort to get it right the first time.
Sure, you can modify or change your business name down the line but it is often costly to rebrand. It cost $2 million to change from Sunome to AppSumo.
4. Not Asking for Past Work When You Hire a Consultant
Asking to see a consultant’s portfolio is important to establish history and trust. Ask them to show you their CV or professional resume. At that point you can decide whether to proceed, decline or seek another consultant. This can save you time, money and headaches.
5. Ignoring Business Name Generators
Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of totally ignoring or looking down on business name generators. These are tools that work with what you feed them to generate business name ideas.
Instead, ensure you feed in the appropriate keywords and search terms to increase chances of good outcomes. Shopify Business Name Generator is awesome for ecommerce businesses.
6. Having Fear of Hurting Family and Friends
Sometimes you just have to say, “Nice try, thanks, but I’ll pass.” Even if you want to run a mom and pop shop, getting a business name is not an emotional activity; it has financial consequences if gotten wrong.
Calmly explain to your partner why you need to hire a professional business copywriter or expert to help if you’re unable to come up with something apt.
7. Not Signing a Contract
A proper contract will protect your interest in the event of disputes if you hire a consultant or expert. Spell out terms and conditions including number of name revisions till satisfied. A contract will also ensure client and consultant are on their best behavior with prompt payment for service. This is essential.
8. Not Understanding One-off Payment vs Royalties
What if your consultant really gets #2 and #3 above, and as a result asks for royalties or shares in addition to or exclusion of payments? It’s your choice to decide to either proceed or decline, after weighing the pros and cons of each option.
9. Setting Unreasonable Deadlines
An unreasonable deadline can make your headline a dead line. Allow for sufficient time so you or your business name expert can brainstorm effectively without undue pressure. Set a reasonable deadline weeks or months ahead and follow up appropriately applying proportional pressure.
10. Not Being Involved in the Business Naming Process
If you as the business owner don’t get involved in the naming process or fully understand it, as well as outcomes, you may be unable to convincingly sell your brand story. This is so important because someday people will ask you the story behind your brand (name). If you can’t tell it you can’t sell it. So get involved.
15 Other Common Business Naming Mistakes People Make
The 10 business naming mistakes outlined above are some of the biggest, but there are many more to be aware of, including these 15:
- Not checking domain availability.
- Not checking the availability of social media accounts.
- Not trademarking business names.
- Going too narrow and forgetting expansion tomorrow.
- Not seeking legal advice.
- Using special characters that are not widely available.
- Using hyphens or underscores in a business name.
- Using mixed case letters.
- Using figures and letters together.
- Using hard to spell or tricky names.
- Not considering name meaning in other cultures or languages.
- Using obscure words, non-words or word associations.
- Deliberately misspelling words.
- Not considering SEO.
- Clearly copying or mimicking big brands.
There is a lot that goes into naming a business. It is essential to get it right. Stop making these business naming mistakes and start getting it right to get your new business started on the road to success.