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What entrepreneurs should never do when naming their startup

Posted by Neha De

March 15, 2022    |     5-minute read (836 words)

What's in a name? A lot, especially when it comes to the success of a small business. The right name for an entrepreneurial venture can impact its success significantly — it conveys to the customers as well as potential investors the essence of a brand, cultivates a positive emotional connection with them and communicates to them how to perceive the new company. It also plays a massive role in marketing and branding efforts. On the other hand, the wrong name can lead to several business and legal obstacles.  

Check out these 10 mistakes business owners make when it comes to naming their business. 

1. Not doing a trademark search – One of the biggest stumbling blocks for most companies is finding a name that can be used legally. Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time and money promoting their entrepreneurial ventures, only to find out that the names they are using are already taken. Remember, the other business owner does not have to register a trademark; they own the rights to the name because they started using it first.

While it is possible to change a name later, it can be expensive, disruptive and confusing for the customers. Therefore, the first thing to do before finalizing a name is to do a simple Google search and then check the USPTO website to ensure that the chosen name is available.

2. Not thinking about social media platforms – In today’s digital world, it is crucial to lay out the complete digital marketing strategy for a business before launch. This includes coming up with identical social media handles for all platforms (so that users have no trouble finding a business on any platform).

This is often an overlooked area when coming up with a business name. Therefore, choosing a name that will work for all platforms is essential, including Twitter, which only accepts short handles.

3. Choosing a name that is too difficult to spell, say or hear – Many a time, in order to sound smart or different, business owners choose a name that is too hard to spell, say or hear. It is important that a company name is easy to spell, easy to say, easy to understand and easy to pronounce (so that people can easily recall it). Research has shown that “on average, companies with short, simple names attract more shareholders, generate greater amounts of stock trading, and perform better on certain financial measures than companies with hard-to-process names.”

4. Not researching competitor names – Many companies do not recognize the power of brand recognition and so do not bother looking up other businesses’ names, especially in the same industry. A business name should be strategic and creative, and it should be able to summarize what the company does as well as what sets it apart from the rest.  

5. Not checking the name’s digital presence Before finalizing a business name, often business owners do not check the top web domain name for their chosen business name. Other things that are skipped include relevanancy and consistency of available social handles, and whether a phishing website or spammer is already using a related name. 

6. Not thinking of the name’s associations – In choosing a business name, a business owner may neglect to fully assess its meaning and associations. Therefore, it is important to ask fundamental questions such as: How will the target consumer perceive the company name? Are there any competitors with similar brand names? Is the relevant domain obtainable? 

7. Not testing the name with the target audience – The naming of a company can be a key strategic decision a startup owner will make. Before printing business cards, testing it with the target market to ensure it delivers the intended image can go a long way. This is also a good time to ensure that target users can easily pronounce the name and remove any market confusion. 

8. Assigning an overly restrictive category to the name – While it is best to go with simple names, not thinking about the future in terms of expansion can cost a business. For instance, while a name like “Miami Baseball” may be simple, easy to say and understand as well as be great for SEO, if there is even the slightest chance of expansion in terms of services, category or geography, a generic company name will limit the ability to grow.

9. Not thinking globally – Similarly, if there are plans of global expansion in the future, it is essential to think about how the business name will sound — and what it means — in other languages. In this case, having a translation agency run an international brand study may be a wise move.

10. Not considering inclusivity – Business owners want their companies to appeal to the maximum number of consumers, but they may end up accidentally choosing a name that limits their interest. Hence, considering how the name will resonate with people of different backgrounds, ages and life experiences will attract more customers. Before making a decision, getting diverse feedback can help.

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