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

Brand Identity
Knowledge Center

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.
Feel free to add...

  Roger GILLAN
Consultant, China

Add 11: Trying to be Funny and Failing

All good points! I'd add one more: #11 Trying to be funny and failing. For example: "That Italian restaurant on the cor...

Business Consultant, United States

Add 12: Omitting to Solicit Reactions in Multiple Cultures / Languages

Agreed. Choosing a name involves both strategy and identity. Another suggestion is to #12 Solicit reactions in multipl...

  T. Marskamp
Management Consultant, Netherlands

On Nr. 1: Family Brand Names can actually be Good

Nice list and it's important to be aware of these issues. About using your family name, I have another opinion: take Wa...

  Anne Crick

Add 13: Picking a Brand Name that Sounds Old Fashioned in Time

Don't choose something that will become dated or sound old fashioned in a few years. This is a great list though......

  Catherine M. Bing
CEO, United States

Blunders in International Business

You might find the book by David Ricks, "Blunders in International Business" (not just about naming blunders) quite inte...

  lenworth grandison

On 2: Mimicking a Product, Brand or Company

Very good list. People sometimes become obsessed with a name they see, makeup or heard, maybe it looks good or sounds go...

Project Manager, United Kingdom

On 3. Describing your Product or Service

I would strongly disagree with point 3. Though arguably less protected, tying the name to the product or service, especi...

  Abdul Rahman
Management Consultant, Malaysia

On 12: Company Names Blunders

@Hermanson : your reaction reminds me of two insurance companies in Hong Kong; Lee Kee Insurance and Fu Ling Yu. I guess...

  Upadhyayula Narayana Das
HR Consultant, India

On 12: Checkout Brand Name Meaning in Multiple Cultures and Languages

@Hermanson : indeed in the era of globalization brands are marketed across nations. Therefore while coining a name it is...

  Anand H

Brand Name - Why Waste Time?

I'd rather not waste time on just arriving at a name for a product or service. I'd rather focus on the core aspects of m...

  Peter Henriksen
Student (University), Denmark

On 12: Always Check the brand Name When Going Global

Always check how customers relate to the word internationally. In Denmark, UPS has been laughed upon, since the word ac...

  Belay Gezahegn
Director, Ethiopia

What Makes Brand Names Important

@Anand H : naming a product is actually important. However, the most important thing is the capability of the product to...

  Mohammad Owais
Manager, Pakistan

On 1: Family Name as Brand Names

@T. Marskamp: those names were chosen in an era when global corporates did not exist and marketing was not a management ...

  Joost van Boeschoten
Management Consultant, Netherlands

Add 14: Using Acronyms or your 15. Initials

Simple acronyms such as CBO carry no meaning except for the initiated, the inner circle of intimi that actual know the b...

  Arpit Mutha
Manager, India

Don'ts for a Brand Name

Good list. One possibility to consider for a brand name can be - identify the consumer - Funk, Easigo.....

  T V N Murthy
Entrepreneur, India

On 3: Reflect the Capacity of the Product when Naming a Product, Brand or Company

Keep in mind that the brand name could reflect the capacity of the product. For example if the brand name explains or g...

  Joseph N. Kosure
Student (University), Kenya

On 1: Family Brand Names

Do we forget that some family names have made long -lasting impression in ocustomers' minds and memories? Mercedes Benz,...

  abraham garshong, Ghana

Naming a Company, Product or Brand

@Hermanson: this page is an interesting topic and a great contribution from Hermanson that the name should be tested for...

  Carlos Talavera
Consultant, Paraguay

Car Model Naming Blunder: Mitsubishi Pajero

@Upadhyayula Narayana Das: A Japanese car company named "Pajero" a pick-up truck model, which, in some latin countries, ...

Consultant, Algeria

Brand Name of a Company

@Hermanson: If the company is expected to locate in different countries, it is necessary, taking into consideration the ...

  Mulandaulwa Sichamba
Accountant, Zambia

Add 16: Making a Brand Name Complicated / Hard to Remember

@Anand H: the points listed are good. A brand name should not be complicated nor hard to remember by people. It should ...

  Ahmed Qadir
Director, Pakistan

Top-10 silly web names

Check out this list of "10 silly website names" for some amazingly bad web site names....

  Dr Gary Jones
Business Consultant, Australia

Elements in Identifying a Brand

Great comments. You have to look at the name of my company to see where I come from, when discussing branding. More ser...

  van Dam
Student (MBA), Netherlands

Mythical Brand Naming Blunders

@Upadhyayula Narayana Das: Nova is pronounced quite differently in Spanish than no va. This story seems to be an urban l...

  lamson ndebele
Entrepreneur, Zimbabwe

On 1. (Family) Brand Names Can Be your Greatest Preemptive Approach

Sometimes naming your company after the family name can be good. It depends on the surrounding environment and culture. ...

Coach, Indonesia

Brand Name - Why Waste Time?

@Anand H: agreed, my opinion is first conduct a survey to check what are the most remembered names at this time by targe...

  Anand H

Branding is No Rocket Science

Christening a "name" for business is not rocket science. It is not a complex thought process. If it were, people would e...

  Arif ur Rehman
Professor, Pakistan

On 16: Make Keeping your Brand Name Easy

@Mulandaulwa Sichamba : I agree the name should not be hard to look at, pronounce, remember, nor have difficult spelling...

  Anjali R
Student (MBA), India

Add 17: Having 'sons' or 'bros' in the Company Name

A brilliant article. I would say that adding words like 'sons' and 'bros' into the company name is very weird. The reaso...

Teacher, Botswana

On 1. Family Names and Brand Value

Its true the use of family names may some present some problems to some customers and affect the brand value and market ...

  Sally laxamana
Events Marketer, Philippines

Naming a Company, Product or Brand

Brands are made, not born. New brands need to be introduced at the shortest time possible. A good name does not guarant...

  Gafar Bamikole
Accountant, United Kingdom

Cultural Insensitivity and Fooling Customers

It may be impracticable to avoid all the name blunders, but a choice that is repugnant, abusive or sarcastic towards oth...

  Ibrahim Danyaya
Student (Other), Nigeria

On 12: Naming Blunders for a Company, Product or Brand

A related error that I think should also be avoided when choosing a name of a company, product or brand is adopting one'...

  Ann-Marie Lorde
Project Manager, Barbados

On Branding your Organisation

Good list, provides food for thought. On # 1, it is the excellent or terrible product and service that is delivered that...

  Ahmed Khator
Manager, Kenya

Avoiding Naming Blunders

In my culture you take seven days to give a baby a name. Now I understand why! To avoid making a blunder and be stuck fo...

  Upadhyayula Narayana Das
HR Consultant, India

Check Out Brand Name Meaning

@Van Dam: a brand name is not just a word that is pronounced but is a composite of many elements including the written w...

  lenworth grandison

Naming Blunders for a Product Company or Brand

@Gafar Bamikole: Good point, lot of companies have fallen prey to these blunders especially in foreign markets....

  Arif ur Rehman
Professor, Pakistan

Brand Names That Families Love

@Ahmed Khator: I fully endorse Ahmedís perception of naming kids on the 7th day. In Pakistan too, itís the familyís comb...

  Kyamiza Raymon
Student (University)

Naming Blunders for a Product Company

Hallo, thanks a lot for the information. It is a common practice in my country for the local investors to use family nam...

Entrepreneur, United States

On 9. Memorable Logo Most Memorable Identifier for Company

As a graphic designer, I believe that branding is most impactful with a catchy name that can be incorporated into the lo...


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