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Top Mistake 1 When Naming a New Company or New Product

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  • Marcia Yudkin
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      Article Title:

      Top Mistake 1 When Naming a New Company or New Product

      Article Description:

      The top mistake in choosing a name is deciding on the name
      you like best. That very obvious-sounding strategy is wrong
      because of four pitfalls. Learn how evade those pitfalls to
      arrive at a name you can grow with.

      Additional Article Information:

      780 Words; formatted to 65 Characters per Line
      Distribution Date and Time: 2009-08-04 10:24:00

      Written By: Marcia Yudkin
      Copyright: 2009
      Contact Email: mailto:marcia@...

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      Top Mistake 1 When Naming a New Company or New Product
      Copyright (c) 2009 Marcia Yudkin
      Creative Marketing Solutions

      Bear with me, because when I tell you the number one mistake
      people make when selecting a name for their new company or new
      product, you are going to be surprised. Ready? The top mistake in
      choosing a name is deciding on the name you like best.

      That very obvious-sounding strategy is wrong because of several
      pitfalls. First, names can go off the rails because you, the
      namer, are not your target market. The name needs to appeal to
      potential customers, not to you. Second, the name you like the
      best may have negative connotations that you didn't stop to
      think about. Third, your favorite name, or a close variant of it,
      may already be in use, causing you to seem imitative or even
      landing you in legal trouble. And fourth, the name you like most
      may limit you in ways that may become painfully clear in the

      Let's go through these pitfalls now one by one.

      Not long ago New Jersey fell into the trap of thinking of
      themselves rather than of the target market when officials asked
      their residents to vote on a tourism slogan for the state. The
      winning entry, "New Jersey: Come See for Yourself," received
      just a few more votes than "New Jersey: The Best Kept Secret."

      Both of these tag lines fail because they do not give a reason
      for outsiders to come explore. Outsiders, who may have an image
      of New Jersey as an over-industrialized collection of chemical
      factories, won't see anything compelling in those phrases. If
      the contest organizers had let non-New Jerseyites react to
      possible slogans, it would have become clear that those slogans
      were lame and uninteresting to the target market.

      For business names, what insiders to the business choose may have
      a meaning element that customers don't relate to or cannot
      pronounce. For example, if an optical shop decided to call itself
      Refractions, they'd be sabotaging themselves, because the
      average person doesn't know that "refraction" is the principle
      of physics that enables glasses to correct vision.

      Likewise, a bakery might fall in love with the name Painique
      (pan-EEK), where "pain," which means "bread" in French, was
      supposed to be pronounced in the French way rather than as
      rhyming with "rain." However, where the typical shopper
      doesn't know French, the name would be baffling and off-putting.

      Choosing the name you like best can also be disastrous if you
      don't take the time to explore whether or not there are negative
      implications to the name. This happened to a shoe company in
      England, which was exciting about naming a sport shoe Zyklon, not
      realizing that this was the brand name of the gas used by the
      Nazis to kill millions during World War Two.

      Similarly, someone who went with the company name Grand Poobah
      Publicity because they loved the way it sounded would eventually
      find out that to language mavens and Gilbert and Sullivan fans,
      the company was mocking itself. The Grand Poobah was a haughty
      character in "The Mikado" who had an undeservedly high opinion
      of himself.

      Going only by what you like can also blind you to the fact that
      your name, or something resembling it, may already be in use. For
      instance, a golf course near me in Western Massachusetts called
      its modest little eatery Tavern on the Green, and found it
      ridiculous when the famous restaurant by that name in New York
      City sent it a letter demanding it stop using the name.
      Ridiculous or not, most businesses receiving such a letter sooner
      or later have no choice but to give in. It's smarter to check
      whether or not a name is legally in the clear prior to finalizing

      Even when a name just echoes something else rather than exactly
      imitating it, the public may feel that your name is derivative
      and unoriginal. If you fell in love with the name Sir Salad for
      your casual restaurant, people might think you'd copied the
      chains Sir Speedy or Sir Pizza, even if you weren't aware those

      Finally, the name you like most could be so narrow in scope you
      are unable to expand. With the name Becky's Bookkeeping, Becky
      may have trouble later when she realizes clients need help with
      filing and organizing as well as with their financial records.

      Perhaps the most surprising point to many people is that it
      isn't essential to have a blinding love for your new company
      name. It's far better if you think systematically about what the
      name should accomplish for you and go rigorously through your
      brainstormed list with those criteria in mind. You may already
      have overlooked the name that best meets those clear-headed,
      unemotional naming criteria!

      Marcia Yudkin is Head Stork of Named At Last, a company that
      brainstorms creative business names, product names and tag lines
      for clients. For a systematic process of coming up with an
      appealing and effective name or tag line, download a free copy of
      "19 Steps to the Perfect Company Name, Product Name or Tag Line"
      at http://www.namedatlast.com/19steps.htm

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