AD

Business names: The good, the bad and the ugly

From Jamaican me Hungry to You Can Cook Puppies – here are the best and worst of business names.
AD

Essentially, the banner that unites your products, manner of service and reputation, is integrated in a few selected words. Choosing a name for your company will, arguably, be one of the most important marketing and branding decisions you’ll ever make. What speaks against a name that will be memorable?

The majority of firms choose pretty straight-forward names, but this is your chance to set your company apart from the others.

What would be the best business name move for you? Clever? Abstract? Funny?

Remember that your reputation hangs in the balance. It is crucial to get the naming of your product right. It could attract consumers like flies, or completely repel them. Humour in a company name has a line that could be crossed into… bad taste. Be clever, be funny, but don’t step over that line. Let’s look at some examples of beautifully creative – and some exceptionally bad – business names.

The movie spin:

What better way to gain attention than intwining your company name with that of a film title. A passerby will stop to stare at the name of the store, either laughing that you’ve succeeded, or whack their heads against the wall trying to remember why that sounds so familiar. In either case, your name has wiggled its way into their head.

  • Grate Expectations: Sells fireplaces.
  • The Blue Legume: A cafe and restaurant.
  • The Codfather: A fish and chips shop.
  • Licence 2 Fill: A sandwich bar.
  • The Merchant of Tennis: Sells tennis equipment.
  • Pulp Friction: Paper recycling services.
  • Spex in the City: An opticians.
  • Curl Up and Dye: Although this isn’t the title of a film, it’s a hairdresser originally from the Blues Brothers movie.

The witty spin:

What might be needed is a sentence that features an object in your store. By showing wit, the company shows the effort it took to come up with a name. With effort comes hard work and service, a great message that your store name sends to the public. It’s not only catchy, but very clever.

  • Drapes and Sew Much More: Sells cloth and curtains.
  • Jamaican Me Hungry: A restaurant.
  • Know Knew Books: A used book store.
  • Lee-King: A plumber.
  • Tree Wise Men: Ground maintenance services.
  • Wok This Way: A restaurant.
  • Wooden It Be Lovely: Sells wooden objects.

The bad:

Remember, the name of your business could become a valuable asset. When you get it wrong, however, your company could end up being an embarrassment. Bad business names can lose you potential clients. It’s fun to work on puns and abbreviations, and even though some of them can be hilarious in their own right, it does not change the fact that they were a poor choice:

  • Camel Towing: A towtruck company.
  • Cock: A polishing service.
  • Deep Sh*t Cattle: A cattle ranch.
  • Dyke’s: A lumber company.
  • O K Service: A car service.
  • Prom Discount Liqours: A liquor store.
  • You Can Cook Puppies: A restaurant.

The ugly:

Sometimes we just have to ask: what on earth were they thinking?

  • Barf: A bed and breakfast
  • Bunghole Liquors: A liquor store
  • Cumming Cockburn: Consulting engineers and planners
  • Herpes Pizza: A pizza take-away
  • Hore’s Stores: A clothing store
  • Poison: A bakery
  • S&M: A tree service

The worst:

You know your business name has really suffered as soon as it infringes on the inappropriate. Remember that there are political, religious and moral grounds that shouldn’t be crossed.

  • FAG: A bearings corporation
  • Nukem Nuclear: Waste decontamination services
  • Slaughter & Son: A funeral director
  • S.T.D. Contractors: A servicing group
  • Taliban Food Centre: A restaurant

To make your company name stand out, you need something consumers can get, something catchy that lends itself to wordplay. What is the best, or worst business name you’re ever come across?

Share with your network

Follow Real Business:

About Author

Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is the deputy editor of Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

Real Business