Starting a new business? Don’t choose a name like this.

All too often, we see businesses choose a type of business name that makes it harder to build a brand. Not impossible – it’s been done – but it’s another obstacle that, as someone starting a small business, you probably don’t want to have to deal with.

What is that type of name?

The infamous TLA, or Three Letter Acronym.

My notes

These are the notes I used as a starting point – so the video will more-or-less follow this train of thought. (But I did vary from this a little on the fly, as one does.)

  • Intro
    • Over the years we have seen lots of people starting up their own business – and many choose a TLA name
    • This is a bad idea. I’ll tell you why today.
  • Body
    • Someone has learned though
      • I noticed this packaging the other day – not a KFC to be found – they’ve gone back to Kentucky Fried Chicken
    • Who do people get TLAs?
      • I’ve heard a few reasons but I believe it’s often down to 2 things:
      • They feel it makes them sound bigger (especially of you add “group” to the end of it)
      • Or they are just being lazy
    • Why is it a bad idea?
      • It is meaningless and hard to remember to your customers and potential customers
      • Was that QRP Group or QPR Group?
      • Sure, you can spend a lot of money on brand awareness to educate your market about your name. But why do things the hard way?
      • If people start using an abbreviation or derivative over time, that’s fine, let it happen organically
      • Marty Neumeier in his book The Brand Gap, lists 7 criteria for a good name (Affiliate link:
        • Distinctiveness
          • Not really – you’re in a sea of other TLAs – it’s a fail
        • Brevity
          • It passes this one
        • Appropriateness
          • TLAs don’t mean anything on their own, so this is a fail
        • Easy spelling and pronunciation
          • We get a pass on this one
        • Likeability
          • TLAs lack any sort of character for the most part – so a fail
        • Extendability
          • Marty defines this as “Does it have “legs”? Does it suggest a visual interpretation or lend itself to a number of creative executions? Great names provide endless opportunities for brandplay.”
          • This is a case by case basis – but it comes back to words have some meaning, TLAs on their own often don’t. So it’s not a fail but it’s a probable fail.
        • Protectability
          • Is this a name you can “own”? Not only in a legal sense, but also in the minds of people? If you have a big budget and can outspend others, then possibly. Maybe?
      • So we get a pass on 2 out of the 7 – brevity and easy of spelling. Important, sure, but probably not the most critical of elements either
  • And finally
    • Take a look at the world’s most valuable brands in 2020
    • Not a TLA in sight in the top 10, and we have to get to 14 before we see any acronym at all
    • Note those 7 attributes we looked at earlier, you might not be able to tick all those boxes, but you should be aiming to tick most of them.
    • And don’t use a TLA!

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