How To Avoid A Cringey Or Embarrassing Business Name

No matter how innovative your business idea is, if you pick the wrong name for it, you’re in trouble. A name should appeal to your specific audience and help you succeed. Bad ones drive customers away, especially if they are offensive, dishonest, or embarrassing.

Here is what to avoid when naming your business.

Misleading or Infringing Names

Customers gravitate away from dishonest or untrustworthy brands, so it is important not to infringe on another company’s brand, even unintentionally.  

Let’s say you’re looking to open a coffee company. You decide that your shop will have a hunting lodge theme, because your favorite time to enjoy coffee is after a long day of hunting; the perfect name will reflect this. You decide that “star” for number one and “buck” for deer are perfect. Star-Buck!

Alas, the name Star-Buck is too close to “Starbucks.” If you decided to move forward with “StarBuck,” your audience would be confused, wondering if you were affiliated with Starbucks. You might also lose your audience’s trust because your name is misleading, and you would run into legal issues.



Researching trademarks pays off. Go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to run a trademark search on the business names you are considering, or hire a trademark attorney to do a thorough check for you. That way, you can avoid legal battles.

Offensive Names

In today’s world of globalization, you should always be mindful of the how your name comes across in different languages.

In 2011, Nokia released a phone under the name “Lumia.” If the company had done more careful research, it would have realized that “Lumia” is a Spanish slang term for “prostitute.” The phone did not perform well in Spanish-speaking markets as a result.

Coca-Cola ran into a similar issue when its name translated to “Bite the Wax Tadpole” in China. It had to rebrand in the Chinese market, and now is known as Kekoukele, which translates to “tasty fun.”  

Run your potential business name through translation software and do a quick Google search. Otherwise, you may end up driving away key audiences.

Ignoring Your Audience

Your brand name is not just about you and your values. It should also appeal to the values and desires of your audience. Most video game gear brands have edgy names like Razer and Alienware because the audience responds to these themes.

Even a name you love may not be the right fit for your audience. Before settling on a business name, take a look at successful businesses in your industry or some winning name ideas. Make a list of the best names’ strengths, then try to come up with original ideas that reflect the values of your audience.

Though you may think you have the perfect business name, extra research and time will ensure your name’s success. There is little worse that coming across as underprepared or foolish in the business world. Being proactive about your brand pays off.

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