How to come up with a brand name that isn’t cringeworthy or embarrassing

Starting a business is like getting on a rollercoaster. It’s a life-changing experience loaded with moments of intense excitement, fear, and growth. And as you continue to grow your startup, your brand identity is one constant that will help keep your business focused and retain its integrity. When it comes to your brand’s identity, your brand’s name takes priority.

Your brand is the first thing customers connect with before trying your products.

Imagine how awkward and humiliating it would be buying Pee Cola, Urinal Drink, ISIS chocolate bar, or even Ayds Diet Candy. Startups must do everything possible to avoid an embarrassing brand name because it can damage their reputation in the market.

Here are some of the best ways to avoid a cringeworthy brand name.

Be unique and avoid your competitors’ name

Any name that is too similar to those of your competition should be avoided. Leveraging some brand power from a big company might seem like a great idea. However, it can cause confusion among your target audience and make your company appear unimaginative and sloppy. Not to mention the court battles your company would face.

As a result, be sure to properly test each name to ensure that it’s distinct and unrelated to those of your competitors. The easiest solution is to go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Perform a thorough trademark search on all the business names you’re considering. This will help you in ensuring that your brand name has not been taken by another company.

Avoid names that don’t resonate with your audience demographic

Even if the primary objective of any business is to earn money, it won’t be able to do so if it does not address the pain points of its consumers. As a result, if you want your company to thrive, avoid naming it in such a way that it alienates your target customers.

Every entrepreneur must take their customers’ perception of the tone of their brand name into consideration. Edgy names like Urban Decay is perfect for a company targeting young people because the name connects with them. But if your target demographic is older, say, baby boomers, you should avoid using edgy names entirely.

Customers between the ages of 25 and 34 chose new and creative names over traditional and established brand names, according to a recent poll by Squadhelp, while customers between the ages of 45 and 65 preferred traditional and trusted names.

But don’t just stop with understanding your target audience’s demographics; you’ll also need to find a short and unique name that reflects their needs and personality. And one way to do this is by using a strong business name generator.

Avoid difficult brand names

Avoid using difficult-to-pronounce brand names. Why? It’ll piss people off if they have to waste time trying to pronounce your company’s name.

Your company’s name must create a crucial first impression. It must establish a firm foundation in the minds of your prospective customers. So choose an uncomplicated name that’s short, sounds great, and also rolls off the tongue.

Customers prefer short, memorable brand names to lengthier ones because they are easier to say, remember, and find online. Long names have many disadvantages. One of this disadvantages is the possibility that customers would misspell a letter when searching for your shop online.

So, while naming your business, restrict your brand’s name to 15 characters and remove any irrelevant adjectives, articles, or suffixes.

Be careful with foreign words

Because of how quickly the world is becoming digital, don’t believe your brand name will be restricted to its local environment and context. Thanks to social media, customers worldwide are watching. They won’t hesitate to dump your items if you make a naming error.

Nokia’s Lumia entered the market in 2011. It was supposed to boost Nokia’s place in the market, and yes, it may have been the company’s saving grace if Nokia had thoroughly researched the name. So we weren’t shocked when Spanish customers dumped the phone because Lumia was a Spanish slang word for prostitute.

Now, try to imagine how awkward it’d be for two Spanish people to have a conversation about Nokia’s Lumia, not great right? That was nothing compared to the shocked expression on faces of Chinese buyers when Mercedes-Benz first entered the Chinese market with the brand name ‘Bensi.’ It means ‘rush to die.’ I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to drive that. But it doesn’t end there because customers in Finland also abandoned Fiat’s Uno after learning that the Italian name for ‘one,’ ‘Uno,’ also meant ‘fool’ in Finnish.

Boycotts like these are the reasons you need to make sure you test your brand name across multiple translation software before trademarking it. This way, your name doesn’t become the undoing of your business. 

Avoid names that offend customers

Understand that upsetting your clients is a guaranteed formula for brand suicide. Many companies make the mistake of attempting to display their originality with a cheesy brand name. Sure enough, they paid the price.

In today’s day and age, where consumers are much more aware of the brands they buy from, sending the wrong message—from your brand name—about issues of culture and politics will undoubtedly create a chasm between your brand and its customers, much like Uncle Ben’s and Aunt Jemima’s brand name did before they rebranded them.

Even after you’ve chosen a distinctive name, don’t do anything that would make your consumers ashamed of your brand. When dealing with political problems, entrepreneurs must exercise caution.

Don’t join the long list of brands that wandered into the heated world of politics and barely survived to tell the tale. By getting too political, your company is only separating itself from a good portion of customers that it needs to thrive in its industry. Avoid getting too deeply involved in politics.

Treat your business like a person

Your brand has a name, voice, mission, vision, goals, and even friends—your customers. Any business owner who truly wants to enjoy tremendous success mustn’t only see their brand as a person. They must treat it with the care it deserves. The best way to care for your business is to give the perfect name that your customers would be excited to talk about.

Grant Polachek

This guest blog was written by Grant Polachek. He is the head of branding at Inc 500 company, the worlds #1 naming platform. It has more than 30,000 customers from early-stage startups across the globe to the largest corporations, including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. You can connect him on LinkedIn.