I’m going to start by saying I mean no harm to anyone, and particularly anyone gutsy and determined enough to create and launch a startup. A small percentage of people have the drive to give it a go, and an even smaller percentage actually launch something.
I nearly didn’t write this, because I didn’t want to cause any embarrassment at all, however there’s a lesson in here for everyone thinking of naming a product or business.
You see, this is a story about a similar naming issue that Luke Fitzpatrick wrote about in his article from January, Uber Competitor Launches, Accidentally Means A Bad Word In Another Language.
In it, Luke explains how an Australian startup chose a name which is the F word in Korean. In fact, this is probably worse, because the local startup here has chosen a name, which at least phonetically, is Australian slang for a certain sexual act.
This app, is actually very similar to another mobile app, which also appears in the same app stores, called Gobi (which is valued at $15 million apparently). They obviously don’t know the word gobby in their neck of the woods.
It’s also the same word as the trademarked Gobi modem by NASDAQ listed hardware company, Qualcomm. A trademark the giant has held since 2007, according to a quick Google search.
Now I tried reaching out to our local Gobi app founders via a Facebook group that they posted in, however I haven’t heard back. What I do want to say though, is this is an important lesson for anyone involved in branding or naming a product or business.
I’ve been in the marketing game for a number of decades, and I have seen similar things occur, time and time again. What I do know is when we are working on a naming project with clients, we are reasonably thorough with the searches we do, and we always ask the client to engage a lawyer for the legal side as well.
So, here’s what you absolutely should do before deciding on a name for your product.
Pre Naming Checklist
Do a Google search for the word or words that it comprises. That’s right, if your product is Widget Example, search the words separately as well, and see what comes up.
The first page gave me hints that something wasn’t right about this name.
Use Google image search and do the same thing. It’s interesting that sometimes what won’t be uncovered on the first page of web search is often found straight away in image search.
Be sure to have Safe Search OFF too; the point here is looking for unsavory references that may happen.
Then head to somewhere like Go Daddy, and search as many domain name extensions as possible, and the ones that are taken, visit the websites, and see what they are.
You’ll want to try and grab as many extensions of your final name as possible anyway, so it’s worth the check fairly early on.
Now, if your handful of names have passed so far, it’s time to broaden the search further. Try going on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms, and searching the words as hashtags or usernames. Check out what appears.
After this, head over to Urban Dictionary, and see if there’s a slang word for something which is either the same as, or similar sounding.
You want to find a name which doesn’t have any connotations to another word or slang, isn’t a trademark or an existing business or company name in any areas you expect to eventually have as a market, and if people go searching your name on a search engine, aren’t going to discover something that isn’t what you are trying to portray.
All the best of luck in naming your next product!