Naming your new company or product is a huge opportunity. Get it right, and you could put your brand on the map, generate buzz, and spark interest among customers. Get it wrong, and you might render your brand invisible—or call attention to it for all the wrong reasons.

Yet, because name creation is more art than science, and a highly personal process to boot, it's very, very easy to get it wrong. (Just look around at the marketplace.)

So what are some of the pitfalls to watch out for when naming your brand? As naming consultants, we've noticed that most of the self-sabotaging behaviors boil down to six all-too-human tendencies.

1. Wanting to be like everyone else

It's human nature. You see a something that's working, and you want to copy it. A well-known brand name sounds solid and credible. But remember, that's often because the brand has become solid and credible over time and with a lot of marketing dollars behind it. (Do you think the name Google sounded solid and credible in the beginning? Or Yahoo?)

Besides, it doesn't matter how much your competitor's name has helped them to rise to the top, because one of your brand name's primary jobs is to convey that your brand is different from the competition. So resist the urge to copy your competitors in style, tone, or construction during name creation.

2. Forgetting what's important to your customers

Before you start naming, make sure you've honed your brand positioning so you're crystal clear about what your audience is looking for (even if they might not know it yet), and also about the most important and distinctive way your brand meets that need or desire.

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image of Laurel Sutton

Laurel Sutton is a linguistics expert and principal at Catchword, a full-service naming company founded in 1998. For more information, contact Laurel at 510-628-0080 x105.

LinkedIn: Laurel Sutton