Ten to one you’ve seen some really terrible company names like Phartronics Engineering. When starting your own business, it’s important to take into consideration how it will sound, how it will look and whether or not it opens the door for a joke or two.
Entrepreneur magazine outlined eight great tips for avoiding unfortunate company names and choosing the right one for your business.
Mistake #1: Design by Committee
Getting everyone’s input and opinion might seem like a good thing, but the more information you have, the less likely you are to settle on one idea. Entrepreneur says that a lot of small business owners involve their family and friends in the process and risk alienating the ones whose ideas aren’t chosen. Others choose by consensus—often resulting in a bland name. Instead, try to only involve the key decision-makers (the fewer the better) who are acting in the best interest of the business.
Mistake #2: Mashing Together Two Words
We’ve all seen them. Names like QualiServe and TranquiSpa combine an adjective and noun to create a nonsensical, made-up name that, let’s be honest, isn’t great. Each word on its own is alright—tranquil and spa, for example—but together, they aren’t an appetizing mixture. They’re not creative and they sound forced. You’d be better off creating something completely new.
Mistake #3: Using Plain Words
Companies like General Motors and General Electric are only good because they were the first of their kind. Unless you have a wildly novel idea, you’ll want something more creative and flashy. (And chances are, if you have a wildly novel idea, you won’t want anything bland anyway!) Take the time to come up with something creative that reflects your business.
Mistake #4: Using a Map to Name Your Company
A lot of companies use their location to help create a company name. Though this might seem like a good idea at first, it could actually hinder your business as it grows. Ever heard of Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining? We hadn’t, either—at least, not by that name. To avoid limiting the company’s growth, its name was changed to 3M, and it’s now known for its innovation.
Mistake #5: Turning Your Business Name into a Cliche
It’s okay to use metaphors in your business name, but try to avoid overused words like “peak” and “summit.” Instead, Entrepreneur recommends using words that describe your business in a creative way. They give the example of a data storage company called Iron Mountain, which conveys strength and security.
Mistake #6: Choosing an Obscure Name
In Mistake #3, we recommended avoiding plain words. But you also don’t want anything too confusing. Business names that are obscure, difficult to spell or pronounce, or complex won’t resonate with customers. Make sure your company name is memorable, but also easy to understand.
Mistake #7: Creating an Awkwardly Constructed Name
Saying “kwality” instead of “quality” is nonsensical. Resist the urge to replace a Q with a K, or an F with a Ph. They’re only more confusing for customers and make it more difficult for them to find you online.
Mistake #8: Refusing to Change a Bad Name
It’s okay to admit when you’re wrong, and it’s okay to change an ineffective company name to something better. A bad name won’t just go away and your business’ problems won’t just disappear. You might have to put in the work to make a change so that your business can flourish.
The bottom line is: Put some serious thought into your business name. You want something unique and memorable that reflects your business goals and conveys your message. Start brainstorming—you might have a stroke of genius.