Subhakar Rao Surapaneni

Investor, Sales and Marketing Pioneer, Author, Technology Champion, Philanthropist, Leadership Mentor

5 mistakes to avoid while naming your start up.


Looking for a unique start-up name? Don’t go ahead without considering the two cases as below!

A wrong name – Might sound stupid turning people off; at times, they may just don’t like to mention it even.

A right name – Applies in many situations; might turn out to be major differentiator from its competitors.

A brand name is not just a name; but your venture introduction and your vision to make it a brand of future. It is definitely a going concern that has promises to justify its value potential with time. The challenge? How to make it sound more than an identification to outstand in the clutter? Evidences of self-inflicted brand wounds state brand blunders that are too hard to forget and be erased over the time.

The best example is the old brand, Xerox; a historical name associated with “Xerox”- photocopy machines made it a storied brand. Despite the technological advancement of office automation and various kinds of computing people simply say Xerox instead of photocopy! The Company’s struggle to kill the name of “photocopying” from audience’s mind and identify new products launched is a big challenge for the brand now. The news of today is from a generic name, Xerox is getting a new name for new services and products.

The Lesson: Being renowned as a household name is fine, but sticking around it can be a disaster.

 You cannot transform that has already existed. But you can surely name your brand origins by justifying the set of expectations, memories & promises that people keep from the positioning the brand name. Take a note of these 5 mistakes to avoid while thinking of naming your start-up.

  1. Never use a descriptive name

Most of the times descriptive names end up being too common and uninspiring leading to short-term or long term problems. Instead a unique name can echo more in the mind of the customers and become a memorable brand name.

  1. Don’t stick to trademarked acronyms

Acronyms wrongly interpreted can kill the brand image even before you think of initiating it. Acronym that is intended to enhance personal brand image can be a disaster and sometimes leave a scar even after years of establishment. E.g., ISIS Bridal & Formal, the US store for bridal dresses is a fighting bad brand image that has lost 20 years of building brand reputation sharing the acronym of a notorious Islamic militant group of Iraq & Syria.

  1. Don’t use acronyms without your own story

Now, think of Nike, Ford, Starbucks, Apple, and Google etc. –What do they have in common? Well, these are short, crisp, simple and easy-to-remember & spell personal stories out of abbreviations that influence the word-of-mouth marketing. There’s no harm in naming your start-up with acronyms but make sure that they sound apart of your personality.

  1. Never add punctuations or drop out vowels

Flickr, Quickr might sound buzz-worthy names that worked for the brand, but that doesn’t mean that such names will work for you. Often, missing vowels can be miss-spelled making the word more difficult to memorise-for humans! Additionally, never add punctuation (an exclamation mark) to your brand name as spending calories might not make sense if it fails to add value. Yahoo! is an exceptional case. Better, not to follow!

  1. Never launch your start-up name without testing

Most entrepreneurs skip this part once they find the potential business name “pretty cool” and satisfying for themselves. Wrong! Without testing the name on buyer personas before finalizing might end up being the name sound as obscure and irrelevant. Xerox is a great example for this.

Test the name on a mix of right-brain types and left-brain types who are not linked to your company; get feedback. Also be case-sensitive while storytelling your brand name to the first-hand audiences.

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