Classic Business Name Mistakes
Ray Atkins, an online entrepreneur with multiple businesses turning over more than a million dollars each year, writes this week’s guest post. We usually prefer to focus on the positive aspects of choosing a business name but Ray, talking from personal experience, tells us of the pitfalls most of us should be avoiding.
My Dumbest Business Name Mistakes
“When I first ventured into online marketing, I had a number of specific products in mind. By being sensitive to time, I knew that I only had a limited amount of scope with my promotional activity before competitors came in so to save a few days, I named by first business after a product. It turned out to be one of those mistakes I should have seen coming.
The products were seasonal and new to the market. I needed a business name almost immediately and because I only had a limited amount of time to sell what I had, using the product name seemed obvious. All went well until December came and went. I’ll leave you to guess what I had to do when I moved onto a new set of products in January!
Another big issue I find with business names is the length of them. Some longer identities work well but unless they have a distinctive hook, people forget them easily. I prefer to keep business names short, snappy and memorable. I’ve used long names in the past and the only thing I’ve ever managed to do with them is annoy my customers.
If you try to shorten a business name by using an acronym, the problem gets worse. Nobody ever seems to know what the acronym means and it costs a fortune to raise awareness. If you want to tell people what your business does in detail, leave it for the website. Your identity is the springboard. Your online resources are the pool that customers use for information.
Because I work online, search engine optimisation is an important component of the work that I do and for a while, I focused heavily on domain names. I used to get these fantastic ideas, buy the domain, build the website and then name the company. I didn’t realise that I had everything back-to-front by doing this.
Not only did I limit my target audience using this practice; some of the domains I chose weren’t particularly good. This wasn’t such a disaster when products only had a limited lifespan but when something turned out to be a good earner, I found I was continually kicking myself because I’d minimised the reach of the business name.
Never, and I repeat NEVER, use your hometown, state or territory within a business name if you sell online. I didn’t realise how huge the Internet marketplace was until I discovered an incredible winter product that would have sold well overseas. Because I was using a geographical business name at the time, the product didn’t fit in with our milder Australian winter weather and I had to let the opportunity pass.”