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Worst Naming Practices: What to Avoid When Naming your Startup

Naming your startup is exciting. But there are certain things you should look out for when naming your startup.

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By Grant Polachek

One of the many purposes of your business name is to establish the tone for all of your future branding attempts. In addition, an effective brand name will create a connection between your business and your target audience. Finally, a startup name must accurately describe who you are and what values and beliefs you want to represent to the world.naming your business.Just as an effective name can benefit your business, a poor brand name can be a disaster. There are numerous naming faux-pas that can diminish or slow the momentum of your startup growth. Find out more about what these are and why you need to avoid them as you start naming your business.

Difficult Names

One of the most crucial things to remember when you’re coming up with a name for your business is that the name should be simple for your audience to pronounce, write and remember. If your target demographic has some trouble when trying to say your brand name, there are good odds that they will stop saying and sharing your name altogether.

One thing that often causes confusion are names that have intentional misspellings because the entrepreneur though it would show creativity and individuality. It’s very common for people to avoid names with overly-complicated intentional misspellings because they tend to create more confusion than buzz. When coming up with the perfect name for your business, try using the “crowded bar theory” to see how easily your name can be understood.

For example, if you were at a crowded bar and trying to share the name of your startup with a friend, would they easily understand what you said? An example of this would be a restaurant called Sam and Ella’s. In a crowded bar this may accidentally sound like salmonella, which is an extremely undesirable word you wouldn’t want your brand to be associated with.

Using this theory will help ensure that your startup name will only have to be heard once to be fully understood.

Boring Names

While it is always a smart idea to select a name that will inform your potential customers what your startup offers, names that are too descriptive tend to be very boring and lackluster.

A great example of this is the fictional name, Official Office Stationery Products LLC.

This is an extremely descriptive name that gives the viewer an immediate sense of what products they offer and for what purpose. However, the name fails to capture any attention. Its overly-descriptive moniker makes the brand feel weak and nonspecific.

Names like these are old-fashioned and simply cannot compete well in today’s fast-paced business world because they fail to generate any interest among their target demographic. A solid brand name needs to capture a small amount of suspense without being too confusing and vague. When coming up with names for your startup, make sure that you are getting creative.

Your name needs to capture the attention of your audience so when they see or hear it your name, they instantly want to learn more about your products or services.

Trendy Names

When you look at the names of startups from the past few decades you will see certain trends emerge.

For example, during the mid 2000s many startups actually had names with missing vowels like Tumblr, Twttr (which later became Twitter), and Flickr.

Another trend from the last ten years was startup names that had -ify suffixes such as Spotify, Gamify, and Coworkify.

While using popular naming types is not a bad thing in and of itself, focusing your naming strategy on finding a name that is on trend, rather than brand aligned, is a big mistake. For example, naming a business using popular first names (Albert, Oscar, Norbert) is cool and trendy.

These names are fun, memorable, and humanizing — and they strategy is great for some businesses. But, for example, you’re trying to name a new and expensive medical technology for surgeons, you’ll probably want something more prestigious than Judy or Ralph for your product name. If you’re looking for a creative way to try out these different startup name trends and fads you should try these strategies for brainstorming business names!

This will help you come up with a name for your business that utilizes trends in a thoughtful and interesting way.

Long Names

The longer your brand name is, the more complicated and forgettable it will be to your target demographic. When coming up with names you should try to cut down your ideas by taking out any unnecessary parts of the name such as some of the descriptors, articles, and suffixes. Long names often come with even longer URLs and should be avoided. If you have not discovered a brand name that comes with an available domain name, you can try surfing the web for domains for sale and will hopefully find the perfect URL comes with a great name.


Even though coming up with the perfect name for your startup can feel like an overwhelming challenge at first, you will find that the effort you put into it will end in a solid, captivating name that attracts your audience. If you follow these basic guidelines of what to avoid when coming up with a name you will be able to open up your creative flow.

About the author

Grant Polachek

Grant Polachek, Director of Marketing at Squadhelp

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 ideas for business names.

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