Copycat brand names (and why you should avoid them)

Copycat brand names (and why you should avoid them)

When starting a business, it can be tempting to give it a name that sounds a bit like another company.

So tempting that it’s becoming more and more common. Like a virus. The motivations for branding mimicry can be subliminal and, on the face of it, rational. If your company name calls to mind a high-flying, high-profile market disruptor, that has to be a good thing, right? What harm can it do if potential customers think you’re funky, trendy, contemporary or innovative because it reminds them of something else with those qualities?

So why not name your company Wizzzly, Cultrify, Yogingly, DonkeyCloud, Splitly, Munchably, Sproutster, Chairable, Spotifically ...and all those other familiar contemporary naming conventions?

Here are 5 reasons why not:

  • It sends out signals that probably aren’t a true reflection of your business.
  • Why would you want a potential customer to think of someone else’s business when they see yours?
  • It comes across as lazy, and indicates a lack of imagination.
  • Can you think of any successful, reputable brand that’s a deliberate sound-a-like of another? (Apart from Spotify and Shopify ...there’s always one exception to any rule!)
  • Remember all those ‘iWhatever’ companies that piggybacked Apple after the original iMac was launched. ‘Cool' never lasts – timeless is where it’s at.
  • The main reason that people choose to mimic other brandnames is that they're hoping some of their magic might rub off on their new venture. In reality, it’s usually embarrassing and, if the company survives, often requires a rebrand down the line.

Aim for idiosyncrasy

Avoid those familiar naming trends and find a name you like, and that feels right for your business. Don't try to second guess what other people might like, or what you think might make your business seem cool. And don't go for a name that sounds like one of those trendy 'flavour of the moment' names; it'll make turning your company name into a distinctive, memorable brand almost impossible.

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