Naming tips: number 58 in a series.

Study your competitor’s names.

This may sound obvious, but I’ve known many instances where it hasn’t been thought of, or has been give short shrift.

So why do it? Well, first, you want to know what NOT to do.

Do not use a name that’s like a competitor’s name. Now I know some short-sighted entrepreneurs who would want to come as close to a competitor’s name as the trademark laws would allow in hopes that their brand might “steal” some business from that competitor.

It seems like a sound strategy on paper, but it will diminish any chance you might have of long-range relationships with customers, particularly if those customers are thinking they are buying the older brand. This is a short-range, no-win tactic that handicaps your brand from the start.

In addition, a study of competitive names will give you some idea about the type of product category you’re dealing with. If most competitive names are descriptive, then you’re probably dealing with a conservative, unimaginative category that might be ready for a contrarian competitor.

An aside: why do most ad agencies name themselves after their founders?. That’s not a way to differentiate meaningfully, or to demonstrate an agency’s creativity. That’s why I named my agency Industrial Strength Advertising. 

The point is: try to be relevant with your offering and your market, but different from your competitors.

Martin Jelsema

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