Your brand name is a highly valuable aspect of your business — and the most fragile. You are online, so the whole world is watching you and your business.
From my experience as a CEO of a digital marketing agency, I’ve noticed common branding mistakes that can easily be avoided. Years of hard work on a brand can be wiped out in a single day, so be cautious of these top branding mistakes that can result in major setbacks or even brand death.
Mistake #1. Not trademarking your brand name
Countless business owners never register their trademark. It’s not required, but it provides an added level of protection against infringement. If you haven’t done so already, register your trademark with a reputable online service or your local patent and trademark office.
Deal swiftly with every single infraction of your brand, use guidelines, and any possible violation of your trademark. If you don’t, you may lose the chance to take any action at all. The point of your trademark is to protect your brand reputation, and keep the competition from copying your work or diluting your brand value.
Mistake #2. Overlooking a vigorous Google search
When you’re choosing a brand name research it on Google first. This helps you choose the name, look, voice, logo and website that will appeal to your ideal customer. It also offers you the best protection against infringing on the intellectual property rights of others.
Use Google for your research, and when it comes to choosing names, domains, and other branding elements. Then research your brand name online via your local copyright office before you make permanent branding decisions.
Mistake #3. Selecting the wrong business domain name
Coming up with a good business domain name is half the battle of creating your online brand presence. First, make sure you get a good domain name extension. The most popular right now are .com and .co for general business use.
There is nothing wrong with picking an industry — or even country — specific TLD domain. In general, avoid dashes or numbers in your domain name, and make sure it’s easy to spell. Also, don’t forget to check for similar social media profile URLs.
Mistake #4. Selecting a brand name that competes with a well-established brand
This is a sign of major research and preparation failure. Don’t risk choosing a brand name, only to find out later that the name with seriously negative online history (even if it’s totally unrelated). And don’t forget, a name that’s too close for comfort may be infringing. Imagine building up your business for 10 years only to find out that you are no longer able to use that brand name.
Mistake #5. Overlooking the psychology and relevance of color and visuals
Know the meaning of the colors before selecting them. Studies confirm “93 percent of people [place] visual appearance and color above other factors when shopping.” Also, graphics and visuals evoke an emotional response. Choose colors, images and visuals that are ideal for your audience. For example, pink may be your favorite color, but it’s generally used to market to women and young girls. So it may work against your new software brand.
Mistake #6. Ignoring cultural references
Content can go viral in hours, so don’t set yourself up for an embarrassing failure in the cultural awareness department. Review how your name is interpreted in all the major countries where you plan to conduct business.
Mistake #7. Not checking language translations of your brand name
Even large companies fall victim to this branding mistake. When Coca-Cola first appeared in China, the brand name was simply read and translated randomly by shopkeepers. The four syllables each had multiple potential meanings, and it was often interpreted as “Kekoukela,” which translates to “Bite the Wax Tadpole,” or “Female Horse Fastened with Wax,” and it’s a sure bet that Coke was not after either of those images.
To fix the problem once it was aware of it, Coke researched 40,000 Chinese characters looking for a phonetic equivalent with a pleasant connotation; they settled on “kokoukole,” which means “Happiness in the Mouth.” Imagine if they’d just taken this step in the first place? In 1927, when Coke was first sold in China, no one thought of this kind of problem, but today there’s no excuse for this kind of blunder.
Branding definitely isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely essential to your business. Anyone can make a brand name error, but why repeat mistakes when you can learn from them instead? Avoid these simple yet dangerous mistakes when choosing a brand name and save yourself from serious setbacks.
This article has been edited.