7 Ways Your Business Name Could Be Hurting You

Could your business name be hurting you without your knowledge? That’s a question many business owners never or rarely ponder, but in fact could be one of the factors affecting your business negatively.

Your business needs a comprehensive audit from time to time to ensure that all its critical parts and components are in top gear to deliver stellar performance per time. These checks help you put things in check before they escalate.

As a business owner myself I put certain business naming principles to work each time I have to generate business name ideas for self or clients like using a business name generator. This is to ensure that I select only the best fit.


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In this article I’ll share 7 ways a (bad or poor) business name could hurt your business. If you have a business and a couple minutes to spare I invite you on this journey of discovery, but first

What is a Business Name?

According to me, 100% of businesses have names stated or implied. By definition, a business name also known as “doing business as” (dba) name is the name with which you do business other than your legally registered business name.

It is your other business name, your business moniker, that name by which the general public knows and refers to your business. Cool?

Yeah, you say, but perhaps you’re wondering

What’s in a Business Name Anyway?

Hmmm, quite a lot I must say, enough to convince investors to shell out $872m to acquire the Cars.Com domain name as well as initiate other million dollar domain name purchases.

Another key thing to consider is cost of business name change and rebranding. Depending on your size and vertical, it could run into millions of dollars. This is why we advocate for getting your business name right from day one.

Speaking of day one, a poor business name will hurt you from day one.

Following are

7 Ways Your Business Name Could Be Hurting You

  1. Reduces Your CQ

A poor business name automatically reduces what I call your competitiveness quotient (CQ): the sum of factors that makes a brand truly competitive.

Your name could be the first point of contact with your brand which could happen via word of mouth, TV, radio, social media, or other media.

A poor business name will create a poor first impression and could cost you valuable business. It could cause first timers to bad mouth you in front of other prospective customers.

  1. Affects Brand Identity

A poor or bad business name could give your business bad reputation or publicity. Some names could stir up prejudice and irrational bias from members of the general public.

It is important to consult widely and deeply before adopting or generating business name ideas especially when including slang or other non-English terms in your business name.

Some words just happen to be ambiguous, amphibious or dualistic, capable of creating multiple meanings and open to several interpretations. Such words are best avoided wherever possible. If they must be used a good slogan, rider or modifier will help.

  1. Affects Brand Recognition

There are millions of business names out there, 28m SMB names in US alone and counting. I ask you, in a sea of names will they see your name? Or will it be lost in the crowd?

Again, beyond seeing your business name, how will they see it, in good or bad light? Will it stick out like a sore thumb or a fine skyscraper?

Your name precedes you and may misrepresent you as just as bad as your bad business name. No entrepreneur really wants to be identified and recognized as that bad business person. These things rub off.

  1. Affects Brand Recall

Affects Brand Recall

What kind of memories are evoked when customers or prospects recall your brand or business name? Note that some customers may judge your book only by its cover without bothering to discover what lies covered inside the pages.

Mr. A rubbishes your brand (name) as just as bad as the crappy service he got. Mr. B hears an earful, is convinced and is careful to avoid you. By chance he bumps into your marketers with a grump on his face thinking “that’s the company that screwed Mr. A my best friend!”

Immediately he tells Mr. C who tells it too until it gets to Mr. Z. In all 26 instances your business name is referenced at least 26 times for bad reason.

  1. Kills Brand Loyalty

This constant bad mouthing and name shaming can kill both present and future brand loyalty. Old customers may begin to perceive you in bad light and see less of your good qualities.

Prospects like Mr. B above will likely avoid you entirely killing any chances of experiencing your brand first hand and building connections that could have resulted in loyalty.

Loyal fans brag about their brands and bash all others like football fans do with their clubs. In each case names are mentioned and a bad or poor name only makes a case worse.

  1. May Translate to Something Nasty

If you have ever witnessed or encountered a presumptuous non-native attempt to translate words into your native language, or a black market movie sub-titled in English; you can relate to this.

In Igbo language for instance, depending on intonation, the word “ike” can translate into any of the following:

  • power
  • buttocks
  • to share

Combined with the suffix “nna” which means “father” this could translate from a name to an outright insult. An expat business(wo)man that fails to consult widely may use a name that results in the wrong combination and drive off customers.

  1. May Kill Off a Business

While not among the popular reasons for business failure, any business that experiences any or all of 1-6 above may suffer low patronage and eventually die off, especially in a market crowded with competitors and “better” alternatives.

When next you brainstorm business name ideas bear these points in mind and make sure to select names that will portray you and your business in good light globally.


Had any aha moments, learned anything new about naming a business? Head over to the comments section to give us a heads up.

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