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How to Save Your Brand From Failure by Avoiding a Cringey or Embarrassing Business Name

Once upon a time, in 1941, a hit product was released; Ayds Diet Candy. It quickly rose to prominence as the top appetite suppressant candy of its era. For years, the product sold well, and the corporation profited handsomely.

Customers adored it, and several Hollywood celebrities referred to it as the greatest figure-saver. But tragically, in the 80s, the media started talking about a terrible disease called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Ayd’s similarity with AIDS had a devastating effect on the firm, and within a few years, sales dropped by half.

Unfortunately, like Ayds diet candy, countless business owners continue to make the same error of selecting embarrassing business names. Like the cases of Netflix’s Qwikster, Analtech, and Pee Cola, not to forget Hitler’s Chicken, a Thai restaurant.

Numerous companies have fallen prey to the ravenous fangs of failure because they overlooked the power of their brand name on their goods.

Businesses with cringey brand names frequently find themselves in difficulties because their brand names, which were designed to assist their company in prospering, instead became the cause of ridicule and regret for the business. 

Whether you’re visiting a naming company or brainstorming for your brand’s name, avoid falling into the clutches of failure like Ayds by avoiding these naming blunders.

1. A Brand Name With a Negative Message

In today’s market, where individuals consciously favor businesses that agree with them on issues like culture and politics, it’s best for a business owner to avoid using a business name that communicates any negative message, especially on conflicting matters like politics. 

Also, since everyone doesn’t share the same political view, it is important to avoid associating with a particular political group because it can always backfire, resulting in a significant division of your audience as well as leading to multiple boycotts as Gillette suffered.

So, when naming your business, avoid picking words that send the wrong message, like Flavors of Negros, Hitler’s Kitchen, and K.K.K. But it doesn’t end there. Also, avoid words like Pu Pu Hot Pot since they conjure up a negative image in the minds of your customers.

Recognize that customers have a difficult time discerning between the activities of a founder or CEO and those of their company. That’s why it’s important to stay away from matters connected to politics, at the very least, to handle them with extreme caution; otherwise, your business might suffer the same fate as Mike Lindell’s, MyPillow.

2. Lengthy Brand Names

It is best to avoid using sophisticated, complex, or technical words when naming your business. Complex brand names are unappealing; no one wants to waste mental energy learning how to pronounce your brand’s name properly.

Customers prefer short, straightforward, and memorable brand names like “AJ’s Seafood” over long ones like “Andrew Jaeger’s House of Seafood & Jazz at The Condor Club.” Why? Because shorter names are simpler to say, remember, and search on the web.

If your business name is too long, you risk losing clients to competitors with shorter, more original, and engaging brand names. Therefore choose short, attractive phrases that glide off the tongue.

3. Names That Have Negative Foreign Connotations

With how quickly everyone is going digital and turning into a global village, don’t imagine your brand name will be restricted to its local area since people all over the world can have easy access to your brand via eCommerce and will not hesitate to dump your product for another one if your brand’s name is offensive in their language.  

Sadly, some brands have already made this mistake and had their brand names lost in translation. A good example is Mazda’s ‘La Puta, ‘ which in Spanish means ‘The Whore.’ And Spanish buyers wasted little time abandoning products like Mazda’s Laputa and Nokia’s 2011 blockbuster phone, Lumia, which also happened to be a Spanish slang word for prostitute. 

Consider how Chinese buyers reacted when Mercedes-Benz hit the Chinese market under the brand name ‘Bensi,’ which means ‘rush to die.’ But it doesn’t end there because customers in Finland likewise abandoned Fiat’s Uno. After all, ‘Uno,’ the Italian word for ‘One,’ also meant ‘Fool’ in Finnish.

These companies lost lots of money because their brand name was offensive to their customers. Therefore, before selecting a brand name, conduct extensive research on your target market to ensure it is not offensive to clients from other nations.

While researching your target audience focus on understanding how your customers interpret the tone of your business name. 

A recent study by Squadhelp found that people between 25 and 34 love modern and exciting brand names, while those between 45 and 65 are attracted to classic and traditional brand names.  

And that’s why a brand name like Urban Decay works because the brand is targetting young people, while words like Estee Lauder work because it’s targetting an older audience.  

Don’t be Strange

Cringey brand names frequently occur as a result of entrepreneurs failing to pay attention to the demands of their brand, clients, and market. 

As a result, they end up with a strange brand name that does not accurately reflect their company, offends clients, and does not match the market. So, ensure you choose a distinct brand name that buyers will be happy to associate with. Grant Polachek is the head of branding for, 3X Inc 5000 startup and disruptive naming agency. Squadhelp has reviewed more than 1 million names and curated a collection of the best available names on the web today. We are also the world’s leading crowdsource naming platform, supporting clients such as Nestle, Dell, Nuskin, and AutoNation.

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