How a Poor Name Can Ruin Your Business

By Grant Polachek

Posted 2 years agoGROWTH

How a Poor Name Can Damage the Value of your Brand

You are starting your new business, having this brilliant idea in your mind and a few talented fellows to help you to make come true. You even have potential investments in your plan. The only thing which kind of suck is the name of your brand. You know that it could be something more catchy and better describing the core of your business, but you didn’t come up with anything good. It’s only a name, isn’t it?

Dang! It’s not only a name. It’s THE NAME and the first thing people will remember about your product or services. You don’t believe me that the name is important? So here is why.


When you are brainstorming the perfect name for your brand, you could run into people who tell you not to worry about your business name. Many people will tell you that there is no actual value to a business name. The same people believe that names are just frills and aren’t worth investing your time and resources into. However, studies show that simple, catchy names perform better than non-captivating names on the stock market by 33%.

Rather than focusing on the monetary value a good brand name will bring you, why not try considering the opposite for a few minutes. How can a poor brand name weaken and diminish your brands’ presence in the business world? Let’s consider all the ways a poor name can damage your brand.

A Poor Name Won’t Establish a Solid Brand Foundation

In today’s ever-changing market, first impressions for your brand are truly everything. Oftentimes, your name is the first thing a potential client or customer will hear about your business. You brand should encompass everything from your name the design of your logo, your values and mission statement. A great brand name will encompass who you are and who you want to be, all rooted in one memorable name.

If your name is not strong enough then it will not be able to carry the weight of your brand. If people hear your name and don’t understand what your brand is, they will move on to the next business. The brand name should provoke questions about the brand while still intriguing the audience to want to learn more.

The brand name is essentially the identity of your company. If the name is weak then it will not be able to carry your brand forward and keep you from expanding in the future.

Will Not Capture Your Audience

Your target market is likely already overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available in today’s market. You could be offering completely unique services or products, but without a great name that interests your audience, you could lose customers. If your name does not immediately capture your audience’s attention immediately, they will likely move on to another brand. You won’t want to lose customers because that means you will also be losing out on future potential revenue sources through referrals.

A good name should create a connection between your audience and your brand. In addition, a brand name should offer your target market something to remember. For example, one of the main reasons why the tech giant apple is because of their name! Apple is such a successful business name is because all people have experience with apples. Apples are a simple, accessible fruit, as well as a tangible, everyday object. By giving their technology company the name of an organic object explains why Apple has done a great job captivating their audience.

Drive Your Audience Away

Your business name should captivate your audience while making a point to not drive them away. Arduous, unclear, or offensive names can drive away many of your potential customers. Avoid any cringey or embarrassing business names because they will drive customers away and send the wrong message.

Offensive names are even riskier than embarrassing brand names. If your name ends up being unintentionally offensive to a specific group it could spell disaster for your brand. An offensive name means that your brand risks losing potential sales from the group you offended, and from people who align themselves with the group that was offended.

If you want to check that your name won’t drive away your audience, try audience testing! Audience testing is a great way to ensure that your name performs well with your target demographic. In order to test your brand name, try creating a list of possible names and ask friends and family or your target market what they think.

The biggest mistake you could make in this process is to ask anybody, especially friends and family, “Which one of these names do you like?” That’s an esoteric question because your business name will likely mean nothing out of context. What does it mean to like a name? Do you like how it looks on the page or how it sounds when said outloud? Is the name descriptive of what you do? Or do you simply like a name because it reminds you of your best childhood friend? Your questions must extend beyond the simple, subjective territory of “like.”

Here are some great examples of what your questions should look like:

  • Which one of these investment apps are you most interested in learning more about?

  • Which one of these toothpaste brands are you most likely to try?

These questions are strong because they force the target audience to slow down and consider your brand in a rooted context.

You can also try simple questions that are based around value or benefit propositions. For example:

  • Which one of these names would be the best fit for a revolutionary payment process company focused on individuals and global usage? (PayPal)

  • Which of these bank names do you feel most embodies prestige and trust?

A Forgettable Name = A Forgettable Brand

Even if a customer really wants to remember your name could forget it. A customer will forget your brand name if it is bland or too confusing to say and spell. When your own customer cannot remember your name then you will likely lose out on sales. Customers are great at referring their friends and family to a brand if they are passionate about it and had a good experience. However, you could be preventing possible referrals if your customer cannot seem to remember your brand name.

A great example of a forgettable name is when Jeff Bezos opened an online book retailer called Cadabra, Earth’s largest bookstore. The name was intended to be short for the magic term “abracadabra”. But Bezos realized that the name was not catching on with his target audience. It was entirely too difficult for people to spell and understand, and many people simply did not understand the reference to magic.

Another reason the name Cadabra failed was because many people would accidentally hear “cadaver” over the phone or in crowded bars instead of Cadabra. After brainstorming with his wife, Bezos decided to change his company name to Amazon, and then the company really exploded in growth.

By changing the name to Amazon, Bezos created many advantages for his company. The first advantage was that since Amazon starts with A, it is generally high up on alphabetical lists. In addition, the Amazon is also the earth’s largest forest, so the name works metaphorically.

Another benefit was because most people have heard of the Amazon rainforest, they immediately understand the reference of the name and knew how to pronounce the name. With one simple name change, Bezos solved all of his problems with Cadabra. The name change was clearly worth it because after the name change Amazon grew to become a hugely profitable business.

A memorable name makes for a brand your customers will never forget. It’s important that your brand does not fall by the wayside when brainstorm a snappy and memorable name. Check out lists online of winning brand name ideas to help you get an idea of what names grab your attention.

Lose Referrals

Finally, a good brand name for your company will have the power to captivate and draw in your audience. Additionally, a name can drive referrals and make growing your brand easier.

It’s crucial that when someone use your services or purchase your products they remember your name. If your target audience can’t remember your name or can’t pronounce it, they are going to be less likely to pass it along to their friends and family. This means that your poor brand name will cause you to ultimately lose out on sales because your name was not strong enough to carry your brand. Weak names mean worry sales.

In addition, your business name should accurately reflect your brand. Furthermore, a good brand name should be captivating and memorable enough that it sets your brand up for future growth and success. If your brand doesn’t set a solid foundation for your brand with a good name, your business will lose out on potential clients and the potential referrals from your clients.

If you dedicate yourself to investing your time and resources into your business name, it will make it worth it in the end. It will all be worth it because it will increase your profits down the line. Every aspect of your business will add up in the end. Especially if your name helps you get one a few more chains of referrals, it makes a huge difference.

About the author Grant Polachek

Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Inc 500 company, the worlds #1 naming platform, with nearly 20,000 customers from the smallest startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these winning brand name ideas.

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