5 Things NOT to do when naming your company, product, or service!
Advice from Jennifer Leuzzi, Communications Consultant and Host of Tech Bites on Heritage Radio Network.
Jennifer Leuzzi is a Communications Consultant, Creative Director, and a Journalist. She has a global approach to brand strategy and business goals. She understands the power of delivering an authentic and consistent brand experience to all stakeholders - customers, employees, investors, and partners. As the host of the podcast Tech Bites, Jennifer speaks with innovators at the intersection of technology and food.
1. Don't be too generic when naming your company.
One thing that is most important across the board and it doesn't matter what your company is or what it does, is that when you think about what the name of your company or your product will be, pick something that is unique to that entity. Unique specifically in terms of the messaging, what the name represents, and what the words mean. If it can be used to describe another entity or business or another product, it is probably not a good idea because the name is too generic. For example, if I were opening a food delivery company and I called it "Food Delivery,"that is exactly what it is and what it does. That's the service. However, it would be very difficult to have people find "Food Delivery" because it is generic. Think if you were buying that ad word on Google. How many different businesses does that apply to? The name Fresh Direct, for example, is specific, and it implies the same thing as food delivery. You want to avoid words that are common nouns because people will not being able to find your company, product or service.
2. Don't use creative spelling for the name of your company.
You want to avoid that creative spelling that people are using now. It will not be timeless because it is a very specific reaction to a very specific set of contemporaneous circumstances. If you are building a business, company or product that you expect to outlive the next five years, you should consider this when you come up with a name.
3. Don't forget to trademark your name.
Most companies don't do this, but I would highly recommend trademarking your name. You want to own your URL. A place where people don't go as frequently, but they should is to the US Government Trademark site. Go to Google and find out if the name you want to use for your company is already in use. Also, go and see if somebody owns it because you need to protect your brand, your image and the value of any intellectual property you are creating. You need to own that name and that trademark. That is the first step in protecting what you are going to build with your business and what kind of brand recognition and brand value you are going to aggregate over the years. Just because it may seem apparent to you that it is yours and you thought of it, that may not be the case. There are a couple of well-known stories in the restaurant world where chefs lost in court the ability to use their own name because their business partners or the people that they worked for actually owned it or made a case in court that they had greater ownership to it. Build a brand that is yours, that is unique, and that you are going to be able to enforce that ownership down the road.
4. Don't forget to check how your name translates in other languages.
If you plan to be an international business, think a couple steps ahead. How does that name translate? How does that experience translate into different languages? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't. I have done work in advertising for multi-national brands. I would do an advertising campaign that had to be dropped into 70 international markets and found you cannot rely on everyone having the same point of reference, language, pop-cultural references, or meaning. Also, you don't want your name to be inadvertently offensive or unpronounceable in other countries.
5. Don't be afraid to change names/branding early on.
A new brand coming out of the gate at one or two years probably doesn't have a lot of brand loyalty. People get attached to names when there is no reason; the value is in the marketplace. Early on when you may have a thousand Instagram followers, 250 downloads, and so on, you can port these customers to a new name. And if you can't, there weren't all that brand loyal anyway. Brands do it all the time. You plan it out. You say "hey we are moving, we are going here, going there." You put the new name up, and you bring people over to a new site.