8 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming Your Business

Many business owners know they have a problem with their name and just hope it will somehow magically resolve itself. The original company name of one of my clients, for instance, was “Portables,” which reminded some people of port-a-potties or portable classrooms –neither of which was accurate nor something the business owner wanted to be associated with.

This added to the confusion when sales reps tried to explain their new concept of moving and storage. After some careful tweaking, we came up with the name PODS, an acronym for Portable on Demand Storage. The rest is quickly becoming history as the company has expanded both nationally and internationally.

Mike Harper of Huntington Beach, Calif., bought a 30-year old janitorial and building maintenance company named Regency. We both agreed it sounded more like a downtown movie theater than a progressive facilities management firm. After a thorough naming search, we developed the name Spruce Facilities Management. “Spruce” not only conveyed the environmentally friendly image of a spruce tree, something important to the client, it also meant “to clean up.” The new tagline fell right in place: Spruce…”The Everclean Company.”

It’s only a matter of time before other companies that have successfully outgrown their original markets begin to question their positioning. Think about “Burlington Coat Factory.” Retailer Burlington actually dropped the “coat” from its name to position itself as a department store, not just a coat store.

Much like 3M and KFC, these companies are changing to keep pace with their growth and image.

In the fever to start your new business or expand a current one, take time to think through some of these issues. By tapping into your creativity and avoiding these potential pitfalls, you’ll be able to create a name that works for both the short and long term. Like the original cornerstone of a building, it will support upward expansion as your company reaches new heights.

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