Avoid the ‘Alphabet Soup’ Product Naming Approach

Naming products and services is an incredibly important element to your branding strategy and marketing plan. Ideal product names are clearly descriptive, motivating to customers and memorable.

Or, you could take LG’s example and go with the alphabet soup approach:

Avoid the Alphabet Soup Product Naming Approach

The LG G Pad F 8.0 (don’t forget it’s trademarked!) is a real product. Try to imagine a customer talking about their new LG G Pad F 8.0 to a friend. Do you think they could even remember the full model name? Perhaps this clunky name is partially to blame for LG having to offer this tablet for $0.99– not exactly a high-margin sale.

LG’s product name is a prime example of naming a product from a production team’s perspective instead a customer’s. To the LG engineers, I’m sure this is a perfectly logical model name. But it doesn’t have anywhere near the impact of a simple, clear product name like iPad.

When naming your next product or service, try to be more like Apple and less like LG.

Before Choosing a Business Name, Run it by a Teenage Boy First

Or you might miss unfortunate innuendo. Fallas looks like a perfectly fine name… until you say it out loud.

Before Choosing a Business Name, Run it by a Teenage Boy First

This probably wouldn’t be my first choice when shopping for school uniforms.

The “Teenage Boy” test might seem unconventional, but it could just save your marketing and branding from public ridicule.

Ten Great Small Business Names

Small businesses benefit from the joy and luxury of being personality-driven. Also, when you’re small, you can more easily choose a focused strategy to serve a niche market. (Large companies usually need to serve large markets, in order to earn enough revenue.)

Here are ten small businesses that embraced these aspects by choosing creative, descriptive and differentiating names that appeal to their customers:

  1. Powell’s City of Books – This Portland-based bookstore is gigantic. The name evokes the quirky atmosphere that is a book lover’s dream.
  2. Grateful Grahams - Consumers today enjoy when a company has a larger purpose than simply selling products. Perfectly tailored for this market is a graham bakery that asks “What are you grateful for?”
  3. Roadtrippers – It’s a website and app that helps you plan road trips. So simple!
  4. Insight to Action – This firm delivers business strategies through the lens of market research. The name quickly and clearly differentiates it from other consultants.
  5. Once Upon a Child - A thrift store that makes buying used children’s clothing sound like a fairy-tale adventure (of savings!). The name is cute and clever. Technically, this is not a small business, but each store is locally-owned by franchisees.
  6. Frameri – Here’s an example of an upscale-boutique name that still clearly implies what they sell. Frameri is an online glasses store, where customers buy one set of lenses that fit into multiple, interchangeable frames.
  7. Sleepy Bee Cafe - Without being blunt, this cafe makes it clear it’s a trendy breakfast and brunch place. Also, they specialize in honey condiments!
  8. Taste of Belgium – This restaurant takes a different approach with its name by specifically letting customers know to expect Belgian food and beverages. The dining experience carries through, as each location feels very Continental European.
  9. King Arthur’s Court Toys – Either Merlin or an amazing marketing strategy have kept this toy store thriving through the Toys ‘r Us and Amazon market invasions. The store’s magical name certainly helps capture both children and family’s imaginations.
  10. Zoo in a Jungle Marketing – Forgive my self-aggragandizement. My company name, which is derived from Peter De Vries’ quote “Life is a zoo in a jungle,” helps prospective clients instantly sense my company’s personality and appeals to small businesses that seek to expand their horizons.

If you’re looking to name a small business or startup, get inspired with my top ten small business names list. And, remember, let your personality shine through!

Eight Terrible Small Business Names

Small businesses have the great advantage of being unique and full of personality. Your small business’ name should highlight what makes your brand special. But some business owners go too far, try too hard or don’t think about alternate interpretations customers might have. From made-up words to edible children, here are eight examples of terrible small business names:

Swampwater Grill – If I found a grill in a swamp, I would not be inspired to cook on it. Restaurant names should at least attempt to sound appetizing.

Tender Tots Daycare – If restaurant names should sound appetizing, childcare center names should not.

ABC Systems, Inc. – Do they manufacture alphabets? This business name is so obscure, perhaps it’s a CIA cover organization.

Bleux Water Spa – “Bleux” is not a real word in any language (that I could find, anyway). I suspect the URL for Bleu Water Spa must have already been taken.

Scarlett O’Hair – Salons have a long and storied history of employing puns, and I do love a good pun. But something about this name is simply off-putting.

Mario’s Lord of the Wings – OK, I admit it. The pun for this wings’ restaurant is so terrible that I really, really like it. But can you imagine seriously recommending this place by name? Out loud?

Dress Barn – Not technically a small business, but this chain should have remembered the phrase, “big as a barn.” Alternately, the name implies that its customers might be cattle.

AAAA International Driving School – The days of racing to the top of the phone book’s alphabetical listings are over. It’s time to develop a more compelling name. Also, because this company operates in southwest Ohio, the designation of “International” is mysterious.

For entrepreneurs thinking about starting a new small business or rebranding an existing one, these eight examples give insight into what to avoid. Choose your business name carefully, because it’s the first impression customers have of your brand.


Marketing Tips: Naming a Business

When you start a new business or develop a new brand, one of the most important early steps is naming it. A good name tells customers who you are, what you do, and what you can do for them.

If the business name is too generic (think American Business Group or Unified Solutions), customers won’t know what they can buy from you. A generic name means your marketing has to work harder to tell your story, both creatively and monetarily.

Alternately, a too-specific name can limit your future potential. Apple’s iTunes Store was painfully out of date with a business model that evolved to sell so much more than music. The company had to go through the expense and consumer education efforts of rebranding the service as the App Store. Apple still hasn’t solved the naming problem of iTunes, the application a consumer counterintuitively must use to sync the data on her iPhone.

To name a business or brand, the goal is to craft a name that is descriptive without limiting the future- and has good domain name possibilities. Some of my favorites include Fast Company, the magazine for innovative businesses; POM Wonderful, the delicious pomegranate juice, and Chik-fil-a, the chicken sandwich fast-food chain.

Or take the example of the business forclosure.com, which filed for bankruptcy last year. Very descriptive of the path the business took, don’t you think?