Half-baked business names

Half-baked business names

Centuries ago, families who made the bread in a village were typically called Baker, and succeeding generations would carry on the trade and, of course, the name.

This was great when there was only one Baker family in the village – it was perfect branding. Need bread? Go to Baker’s.

But as the village expanded to become a town with more mouths to feed, it needed two Baker families to provide the bread.

This introduced a new problem; it would be confusing having two businesses with the same name, doing the same thing, in the same village. One of them would have to find a different business name.

A new branding challenge

Sticking with the family theme, they could use a relative’s name, for example an in-law’s name, or a wife’s maiden name. This was OK, as long as that name wasn’t also a trade. A bakery called Butcher would cause confusion.

And if they couldn’t find a family-related name for the business, the location name came in handy. Thus, the likes of Townsville Bakery’were born. This solved the problem perfectly. It’s a bakery, and it’s based in Townsville.

This approach was just fine until the other businesses in town also multiplied ...and up popped the Townsville Butchers, then Townsville Drapery, followed by Townsville Hardware, and so on. The location name began to lose its value as a distinguishing feature once everyone started using it.

And when the Townsville Bakery wanted to open another shop in the nearby town of Boroughford, its name was less than ideal. What started out as an accurate description was no longer accurate as the business grew.

Of course, you could add other business-specific keywords (like bread, loaf, flour, grain, granary, cupcakes…) to the list of words that can start to go a bit stale in an expanding food company's brand name.

Don't make your business invisible

The point of this bakery empire fable? A descriptive name is half-baked. It will only be a good idea if you're the only business in the global village that does what you do. Using words that competitors have been using for years will make your business invisible - and it will paint you into a corner when the business grows and changes. 

So unless you have a rare and distinctive surname, or never plan to grow and expand your new business, or make a totally new and unique product, you should avoid eponymous, location-based and descriptive names like the plague. Choosing a unique business name is essential for becoming a successful, memorable brand.

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