Top-10 Naming Blunders For a Company, Product or Brand

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Sujeet James Sarwan
Training Head, India

Top-10 Naming Blunders For a Company, Product or Brand

Here's a list of errors you should avoid when choosing a name for your brand, product or company:
1. Using your family name. Unless your name is unique and memorable, it contains minimal promotional value, and determining the brand value and transfer of the name upon the sale of the business is often problematic. And in my case, how many customers have met someone named Smith that they didn't like?
2. Mimicking another company's brand. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but why flatter your competitor? Worse, there's liability for infringing upon another's Commercial identifier.
3. Describing your product or service. This is the most frequent and serious mistake. A descriptive name is a ticket to the courthouse and to endless, expensive, and time-consuming litigation because it's bound to be imitated eventually by your competitors. The courts have determined that you can't monopolize any part of the language. You can either create a new word out of nothing, such as KODAK, or give a totally new meaning to an existing word, like CREST for toothpaste.
4. Having brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming monopolizes expensive management time and generates more arguments than deciding on the merits of chocolate versus vanilla ice cream. The result is a predictably colorless compromise that lacks the marketing punch and legal clout you need. Group interaction in naming has its place, but such endeavors need method, structure, and common goals to be effective.
5. Holding a naming contest. Holding a public or employee contest to coin a name makes as much sense as practicing medicine by popular vote. It's haphazard at best. And a contest requires a winner, even if the best entry is unsuitable. Have a company picnic instead.
6. Ignoring the customer. Insiders are too close to the product and its history to be open-minded. A commercial identifier that's effective in the marketplace looks outward; it speaks the customer's language, not the engineer's or designer's. It should motivate your prospect, catch his or her fancy, and be long remembered. Don't focus on your achievement. Consider what will attract the public.
7. Creating techno-babble. Cold and unpronounceable combinations of Zs and Xs, just don't communicate in advertising. The minor technical gloss doesn't make up for the lost opportunity to carry a high-impact message to the market several times a day.
8. Choosing availability over exclusivity. Just because a name's not already registered doesn't necessarily make it a good candidate for your product or company
9. Taking the logo for granted. A creative ad and a snazzy logo help the customer remember your commercial identifier. A logo should enhance the impact of a name, but great graphics won't save a weak name. Do your best when coining your identifier, and then take it to the graphic artist.
10. Leaving your mark unprotected. Registration is your most powerful weapon and should be your top priority.
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