What's in a name? Best branding tips for your business

By Kate Birch
From Google to Abrdn, Lamborghini to Meta, choosing the right name, and spelling, for your business can be critical for success. Here’s why brand matters

What’s in a name? When it comes to your business, it could be the difference between success and failure – or could it? Were it not for one of the most significant typos of all time, we would not have Google. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Subway and Netflix have all changed their names too, as has Facebook most recently with a switch to Meta, so does it really matter?

The story goes that Google should have been Googol. Founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin brainstormed that name (which means the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes) but then mistyped Googol as Google when searching to see if the URL was available. The rest, as they say, is search engine history.

And while there is a clear appetite for portmanteau names (two words combined together) and also brands that phonetically sound like a well-known word or phrase but spelled differently, many traditional brand names are often misspelled.

Why spelling of your brand name is important

A recent survey by financial services comparison site money.co.uk in conjunction with analytics tool Ahrefs highlighted the most misspelled brand names online.

Top of that list comes South Korean car manufacturing giant Hyundai, with an average 605,000 wrong searches each month. Next is another car manufacturer, albeit at the other end of the price scale, and the admittedly tricky Lamborghini. Ferrari comes third in the list, which may say more about fans of automobiles than it does about the importance of branding. There are four more car brands in the Top 20, dominating this spelling test fail.

“A brand name can be one of the core pillars that will determine the popularity and success of a business, therefore aspiring entrepreneurs must give careful consideration when choosing a brand name for their new business,” says Salman Haqqi, a business finance editor from money.co.uk.

Five factors to consider for your brand name

Haqqi says there are some fundamentals that need to be considered for a great brand name. He says a name should be:

Unique – A brand name that is distinctive and makes the business stand out against competitors – preferably for all the right reasons, unlike perhaps Poopsie’s pizza restaurant in Massachusetts.

Digestible – A brand name that is not too difficult to say or spell. In the e-commerce age, this is especially important, ideally a brand name people can easily Google and find online. Back in the days of Yellow Pages, AAA Taxis would have been a winner – not so nowadays.

Due diligence – A brand name that can be trademarked and you can acquire a web domain for. This is why we see so many short URLs with variations on spelling.

Visual awareness – A brand name that can be clearly communicated through colours, icons and logos.

Longevity – Can the brand name grow in correlation with the business and maintain relevancy as the business expands into new products, services, markets and territories? Apple is prime example, dropping ‘Computers’ from its company identity to reflect its diversification into mobile phones.

Sometimes having an annoyingly spelled name (or even incorrect) name works wonders. Take Toys R Us for instance with its backwards R. That did not go down too well with teachers and parents concerned about the impact on kids’ grammar, but it still became the biggest toy store chain on the planet. Until, of course, it failed to recognise the growing significance of Amazon and Google, failed to move online, and left retail parks forever.

Whether it’s dropping vowels like so many tech startups (Flickr, Tumblr, Scribd) or devising a unique and sometimes contrived variation on the spelling to achieve a phonetic result (the insurance company Standard Life Aberdeen rebranded to Abrdn…), some brands have no shame.

To conclude and emphasise the importance of your company name, check out these stats:

  • 72% of consumers make purchases based on brand name
  • 74% of 21-35 year olds will pay more for a product from a company name they like
  • 72% of the best 100 brands have names that are acronyms or made up

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