What’s in a Name? The 9 Commonest Brand Name Mistakes
21 March 2014 by Steve Lewis
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When you’re a young, ambitious start up deciding the future of your business, choosing the right brand name is absolutely essential.
Get it right and your business has the solid base from which to grow – and keep growing. Get it wrong and you’re facing an uphill battle. Here are the 9 commonest brand name mistakes and errors – made so that you don’t have to!
1 – Treating the name as an afterthought
Creating a brand is a much more complicated process than many give it credit for. There are a number of hurdles to clear before you have an all-singing, all-dancing brand name and it takes time for an idea to be honed into something that really does the business.
Naming your brand needs just as much thought, if not more, than your design, marketing and product offering, so you need to consider it at the very start of the development phase.
2 – Neglecting translations
How does your brand name translate to other languages? Even if your business plan is a strictly local concept, you still never know how the future will pan out and which customers you’ll pick up.
Therefore, you need to be sure your brand name isn’t offensive, disgusting or ridiculous in other major languages. You don’t want to be like the Ford Pinto, which suffered awful sales in Brazil because it shared the same slang name as male genitalia.
3 – Saying too much
Your brand name isn’t an all-encompassing prospectus about your business – it’s simply one or two words to catch a person’s attention. The best brands – think Topman, Amazon and HMV – don’t use their name to explicitly say what the business is about. It’s simply a way to hint at the qualities that make the brand so impressive.
Don’t tell customers everything. Try to avoid adjectives. Just tease them in in with a well-researched, catchy bite-sized moniker.
4 – Being too trendy
Of course, everyone wants a brand that appears fashionable. However, the very nature of fashion means that trends that were cool 10 years ago are now anything but.
Don’t allow your brand to fall out of fashion in two years’ time by using on-trend language with your name. Steer clear of slang terms, dropped letters or any other wording fads that may seem ultra-fashionable right now. You need to be sure that your brand stays current in the long term.
5 – Forgetting trademarks
Did you know that there are 13 million trademarks in the world. The unfortunate fact is that if you’ve thought of a decent brand name, it may well be taken – so you need to check online that the brand name you’re using isn’t someone else’s property.
6 – Finding a corresponding URL
Similarly, you need to be sure that your brand name has a valid URL. If the URL of your preferred brand (www.yourbrand.co.uk) has already been taken (as well as other .co.uk/.org variants) and their owners won’t sell them, you’ll have to look elsewhere and find a new name. Otherwise, confused prospective customers won’t be able to find your brand online.
7 – Being overtly descriptive
Being too descriptive can really limit a brand name. After all, you don’t want to be dissuaded in the future from diversifying because your name is too restrictive and only describes what you used to sell. For example, if you sold ‘jewellery’ online and included the word in your brand name, you might face problems if you wanted to diversify in the future.
The behaviour of search engines also discriminates against descriptive brands. Google will regard exact-match URLs (when the URL is the same as a search term such as ‘www.mensjewellery.co.uk’) as potentially low quality. Therefore, you could find it hard to rank well in the search engines.
8 – Not asking other people
When you’re creating a new brand it’s very easy to stay in your own little bubble. That’s why, if you think that you’ve come across a brand name with some potential, it’s absolutely essential to access some unbiased opinions.
Take a step back. Conduct some market research: what do friends, family and strangers (particularly those who may represent a target market) think about your brand name? What do they think it represents? Does it confuse them?
9 – Not being yourself
One of the main purposes of a brand name is to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Therefore, your brand name needs to convey all that’s good and great about your business. Don’t copy your rivals – consider what it is about your start up that makes it so distinct and convey that in a few words. Simple.
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