Naming your business is one of the most important steps in setting yourself up for success. The name of your business is your customer’s first interaction with you – and they can leave with a bad impression before they’ve even checked out your business if you’re not careful. The moniker you select to represent you to the world on your business card, on your website, and in marketing materials is very important. Even if you are using a virtual office and won’t soon be having huge flashing neon signs and billboards on US101 emblazoned with your name in forty foot letters, you need to consider the impact that your name will have. Here are seven far too common mistakes that businesses make when it comes to business names and how to avoid them.
Taking a Committee Approach
Too many cooks spoil the soup and too many opinions can definitely lead to a muddled business name. It’s important to check your name against the opinion of others, but you need to bring other people in at the right time. It’s important to come up with a list of potential names that fit your own criteria before you bring in others.
Using a cliché name
Many business owners believe that naming their company something that expresses their position – like Peak or Apex – will help them get more business. The only problem is that there are a dozen other companies out there trying to do the same thing. You want your business name to stand out, so avoid overworked and overused words.
Picking something obscure
At the other end of the spectrum of being cliché is picking something too obscure. You want your name to have special meaning and significance, but the meaning can be completely lost on your audience if you’re not carful. If your name requires extra explanation or a lengthy paragraph about your position, you need a new name! One of the most embarrassing examples of this is when Pacific Bell dubbed itself Pacific Telesis in the mid 80s. The jokes didn’t stop until they quietly reverted to Pac Bell.
Made up words like Kodak and Xerox have been successful for those companies, but there are a few a big differences between them and you. Number one, they were among the first in their field to deliver those products and number two, they have the advertising budget to educate the masses on what they have to offer. Don’t mistake being unique for creating your own words. Find a way to say what you do through your business name using real words.
Limiting yourself geographically
Naming your company Denver Realty because you’re doing business from your office in Denver, Colorado may seem like a vote for local pride – but what happens when your realty company grows beyond those geographic limits? When you select a geographic name, you may be limiting your future potential, or setting yourself up for an expensive – both in money and accrued goodwill – name change down the line when you expand or grow out of your locale.
Neglecting due diligence to see if your name ideas are available
Many a small business owner has come up with the perfect name only to find that there is someone else out there operating in the same field with a very similar name. You should check any name that you consider against public records – which is very easy with an Internet search – before you get that ‘cease and desist’ letter one year on in your business life.
Having a bad name but refusing to change it
You may already have a name for your business that fits one of these mistakes. Rather than sit with a bad business name, take steps now to change it for good. The transition might seem difficult at first – but even major brands have to make changes when necessary. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC to reduce the emphasis on their fried food and geographic location. Changing your business to something less obscure, more descriptive and not tied to your location can pay off in the long run.
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