In the Internet age, a poorly chosen business name is the butt of many jokes. Who hasn’t heard of The Golden Shower, Sherrill’s ‘Eat Here and Get Gas,’ or PCP Dining. While these are examples of small businesses that have found worldwide fame for having a funny name, they may have difficulty if they wish to expand further.
Sometimes, these off-beat names are chose on purpose, In other cases, the owners may simply have not thought their choice through very well. A company name choice can be very risky and naming consultants are able to charge thousands of dollars to help their clients select the right name from the start.
While a name is important, it will only work if the basics are present. Great products supported by a team of customer service professionals and a business strategy that is well-developed must be in place as well. Keep in mind that there are simple ways to make a good choice for your fledgling business without sweating the small stuff. Here are four simple rules to help you avoid embarrassing mistakes that can turn out to be costly.
1. Do The Legwork To Ensure You Have The Legal Right To Use Your Selected Company Name
More than 400,000 new companies are added to the existing list of approximately three million companies already registered at the UK’s Companies House. The sheer volume should be enough to make you want to do your research before you name. With so many names already chosen, it is a good bet that someone has already started a company with the same business name you want to use. Even if the regulator accepts your name, you risk a legal challenge if a larger, more established business with the same name thinks that you are using them to boost your business.
The Companies House has a list of sensitive words that you must have express permission to use. The recent case of the Café Olympic in Stratford provides an example. They found themselves in a legal battle with the Olympics Committee and finally agreed to a name change that both could live with, Café Lympic. On the upside, they received a great deal of free publicity during the controversy.
2. Leave Room To Grow
If your long-term plans include expansion, don’t limit yourself with geographic name linked to one small region. Bell Atlantic was clearly identified as a US company which eventually prompted it to change its name to Verizon when a series of acquisitions was completed. Once they had reached the larger size, they had the resources to successful market their new name to establish themselves as a leader in the field.
Jeff Bezos thought on a grand scale when he chose the name for his little online book store. His idea was to create a name with a range of products as wide as the Amazon River. He included the link from A to Z with a small arrow for the logo of his company, Amazon.
3. Avoid Offending Cultures And Communities With An Unintentionally Offensive Name
A local grocery chain in Finland will never be able to expand into the US if it chooses to keep its current name: KKK. In Ghana, a popular drink manufacturer calls itself Pee Cola Ltd and won’t find much favor for its tasty beverages if it tries to expand. The takeaway from these name examples is to pull out some foreign language dictionaries and check for offensive meanings if you plan to expand outside of the UK.
4. Keep Your Naming Group Small
You will never be able to please everyone 100% of the time when selecting a name for your company. Names are very subjective and the odds are good that you won’t get unanimous approval. If you’ve followed the steps above, trust your instinct and go with the one that you prefer. If your brand is successful, you name will simply mean quality once it is out there for a while.