BRAND TRAP: Avoid generic brand names

by Anne M. Berg

There’s obvious appeal in selecting a descriptive, generic brand name. But when you do, the marketplace traps you into becoming known as an initialism (series of letters that represents your name). Even your own organization likely will default to this simpler approach.

The only time it might make sense to rely on a generic series of letters to represent your brand name is when the letters form a true acronym which can be pronounced as a word (NATO, for example).

When you go generic, you lose precious brand equity. All because you wanted your name to do the hard work of explaining what you do. It’s rarely a good idea. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Search: You won’t achieve strong search-ranking results.
  • Domain: You likely won’t be able to own the URL suite.
  • Meaning: You won’t be able to easily imbue the initials with meaning.
  • Confusion: Your name will be confused with hundreds of other initialisms.
  • Trademark: You’ll have a much more difficult time with TM ownership.
  • Memorability: Your customers will have a tough time recalling your name.

Great branding relies on the principles of differentiation and relevance. It’s difficult to achieve either when you choose to fall into the abyss of abbreviations.