When Naming Companies, Watch for Foreign Faux Pas.

Business naming can be a hazardous activity.

There are hundreds of examples of names that were screened and approved, only to find after investing in branding the name that to contain objectionable translations or obscure meanings that are derogatory. Chevy’s Nova in Brazil means impotent Another name, I forget which one, turned out to be related to a fifteenth-century demon who ravaged women.

Naming IssueSo to help namers alleviate (not eradicate, just make the odds better) the problem, A service called www.Globalnaming.com was formed in 2010. Here you can enter a name candidate and the software will search it’s several databases of foreign slang and “dirty” words, thesauruses and dictionaries, and then indicate possible problems.

Very easy to navigate and to use. The deliverable is a pdf report.

One caveat: the name creation function on the site leaves much to be desired. In fact, I found it very limited and limiting.

Naming a Business After Oneself – the Easy Way Out

Naming a business after the owners is commonplace, particularly for service providers.

There are two main reasons people name their company’s after themselves – it’s easy and there’s an ego involved.

The name, particularly if it’s comprised of two or three partner’s names, like most law and accounting firms, is usually available and possibly trademarkable. And it takes very little creativity to name a business after oneself. What’s more, the business can be named quickly so the founders can get on with the important things. They probably spend more time picking office furniture than they do naming their business.

personal names for namers
10 branding firms named for their founders

Ego is a little more complicated reason for the owner naming the business after themselves. Very seldom will the owner acknowledge that having a business named after oneself is an act of ego-stroking. Their response when asked usually has to do with the name having a “certain reputation in the field”. Then they might also allude to the fact that most professional service providers use the principal’s name. It’s, well, professional.

Little thought is given to an “exit plan”. Selling a business that’s named for someone else doesn’t appeal to other ego-driven professionals, nor do buyers see that they gain any equity by carrying on under someone else’s name.

There is a trend, even in the medical community, to do business under a name designed to evoke a positive feeling about the entity, and to differentiate on factors other than the founder’s reputation. I believe it’s healthy and beneficial to take the time and make the effort to name a professional service provider by a name that sets the organization, not the individuals, apart.

Oh, another group of professionals guilty of using founder names? Branding consultants.

Goodness gracious. Think they’d advise their clients to do the same?