Time for a Re-brand? Signs Your Brand Name is Hindering Your Business

You’re at an industry conference chatting with the head of another company. You know your two businesses would work well together, and you are delighted with how well the conversation is going. When your new potential client has to go, you end things with a smile, a firm handshake, and you hand him your card. He takes it and reads the brand name. He grimaces. He turns green. He throws up. He tears up the card in disgust and runs away. You won’t be doing business with this man after all.

No. 4711 brand

Okay, so it’s unlikely that your brand name is causing such nightmarish scenarios to take place, but it could still be holding your business back.

Check these 3 reasons your brand name may be hindering your business, and think about whether it is time for a change.

1. Your brand name is too plain

Coffee brand

You might think a simple, straightforward name is a strong classic choice with timeless appeal, but actually, it could easily be the opposite. Entrepreneur Magazine includes “using words so plain they’ll never stand out in the crowd” as one of its top 8 mistakes to avoid when naming a business. They point out that while using a plain name may provide a clearer idea of what the company does, it won’t be something customers remember.

Branding experts Novanym, as the name suggests, provide unique business names to those struggling for inspiration. They have observed that how the internet has enabled brand names to reach further than ever before, and that standing out from competition in search and on social media pages can be crucial to business success.

In the modern tech landscape, plain brand names face more problems than mere forgettability. It’s an extreme example, but say your company is called “Good Shop”. If someone types that into a search engine, it is very unlikely that your store will actually appear in the results. This means companies with bland business names can find SEO very difficult.

2. Another business has the same (or a similar) name as yours

Iceland shop
photo credit: Jim / Flickr

If the public keep mistaking your business for another one with a similar name, it is definitely a good idea to rebrand. This is even more important if any of these three conditions are in place: the other company is much better established than yours; the other company does something unsavoury you do not want to be associated with; or the company is better established than yours for doing something unsavoury that you do not want to be associated with.

Name your new games console a PlayBoy, for example, and it’s unlikely parents will want to buy it for their children. It’s also possible you will be taken to court for trademark infringement. An example of the same-name effect in play made headlines recently, as the nation of Iceland took British frozen foods retailer Iceland to court over trademark infringement.

If you really want to hang on to the name, this guide from Moz can help. Check whether the other business operates in the same industry as yours, and which has been around for the longest.

3. Your brand name is hard to pronounce

Hoegaarden Rose e
photo credit: Niklas Morberg / Flickr

If your company has a brand name that is difficult for customers to pronounce or perhaps embarrassing for customers to say out loud, you may well be in need of a rebrand.

If people cannot easily pronounce a brand name out loud, they are much less likely to even try, and you will lose out on countless potential sales that you could otherwise have gained through word of mouth. This has been backed up in academia by psychology professor Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He found that people are less likely to buy stocks with hard to pronounce names, and even that politicians with difficult to say names have more trouble getting elected.

Foreign-language names can sometimes fall victim to this effect. Starbucks’ Howard Schultz quit the Seattle coffee chain in 1983 to start his own Italian-inspired coffee franchise Il Giornale. Schultz had little success with this more sophisticated name, so he bought Starbucks in 1987 and carried out his Italian vision there.

Marketing experts Super Simpl say brand names that are complicated, foreign, or just plain silly (‘Ning’ is the example they give) are not worth the effort for customers. Instead, they want something that they can say, something that they can remember, something that is straightforward. Just make sure it is not too straightforward, or you’ll be bordering on “too plain” territory (see point 1).


So, there you go – three of many reasons why branding for your business is more difficult that it has to. Avoiding those three is sensible initial steps for your journey to a better (re-)branding.