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The Definitive Top 10 Worst Business Names EVER

One of the most important features of any business is a name that is both logical and easy to remember. But some business names may be memorable for the wrong reasons. Many bad business names come about because of poor planning or failure to consider cultural differences. Some of the “worst business name” blunders are unintentional, while others are simply the result of a joke being carried too far.

Before finalizing a business name, be sure to ask the opinion of several friends and business owners. This step could have prevented business names like:

1. Phartronics Engineering,

an Oklahoma-based engineering company that specializes in building measuring devices. Whatever their receptionist pulls down annually, it’s clearly not enough for all the gastrointestinal humor he or she is subjected to on a regular basis. Before caller ID was widely available, the prank calls this company received must have been overwhelming.

2. Analtech,

See-No-Bubbaa Delaware-based biotech company that sells thin layer chromatography plates. Check out their web site (www.analtech.com leads directly to the more serious www.ichromatography.com), and you’ll see that they routinely refer to thin layer chromatography as TLC (as in TLC plates), which in itself carries a double meaning. Somehow “Analtech is the world’s best provider of TLC” just doesn’t seem like something you want to say aloud.

3. Morning Wood Design Furniture,

a Korean-based furniture company. Of course, it’s understandable that the double meaning of “morning wood” would be lost on the Korean owners, just as it was lost on the owners of Pakistan-based Morning Wood Furniture. But honestly, Morningwood Custom Built Furniture  is in Manitoba, Canada, and someone there should have caught it. And Morningwood Lumber & Furniture Inc. is in Illinois.

4. Bunghole Liquors,

a Massachusetts-based liquor store got a lot of attention for its unusual name, despite the rational explanation (a bunghole is a small hole drilled into a wooden barrel, such as a wine barrel). In this case, the owners are completely aware of the double meaning and play it up repeatedly in their promotional literature. For instance, their web site declares, “We’re not #1, butt we’re right up there!” They also sell t-shirts that suggest, “Don’t like it? Turn the other cheek.”

5. Pho King,

Hear-No-Bubbaa Vietnamese restaurant popular in California. Its name is pronounced similarly to a common American curse word. Asian restaurants in general seem prone to these sorts of unfortunate double meanings. Check out the Phat Phuc Noodle Bar in London, England. On the other hand, some owners try to avoid this problem by adopting an English name, like the Golden Shower Chinese Restaurant in Sydney, Australia. It doesn’t always work.

6. Killer for Hire,

a Louisiana-based exterminator business. Like Bunghole Liquors, it has embraced its somewhat tasteless name by actually using a mobster cartoon character in their logo. Had this business opened in New York or Chicago, perhaps the mob and organized crime connotations would have been too close to home to be in good taste, but the business seems to be doing quite well in Louisiana.

7. S & M Family Outlet,

a small retail chain that sells discount women’s clothing and assorted housewares in Texas and Louisiana. It’s got some nice Yelp reviews and is definitely worth checking out. Just make sure, when you search for it online, you type in “s&m family outlet” and not “s&m clothing” because that second one will take you … somewhere else.

8. Tom Raper RVs,

Speak-No-Bubbaa recreational vehicle dealer. This outlet has been in business for years, earning its reputation for selling quality recreational vehicles at the best prices. So with such a great reputation, why did the business finally change its name to “Camping World?”? There were probably a lot of good reasons, one of them being that the name on the sign reminds potential customers of a criminal act.

9. Ayds,

which was first marketed in the late 1930s as an appetite suppressant. It was quite popular until the early 1980s. What changed? As far as the product went, nothing. But the world it was being marketed to suffered a profound shift as a new disease began making headlines. Efforts to continue marketing the supplement were unable to get past the extremely negative association that the name now had with the public. Of course, before the 1980s, nobody could have possibly anticipated such a backlash, chalking this product’s eventual failure to nothing more than bad luck. The same cannot be said for the absolute worst business name, which was neither accidental nor the result of some obscure double meaning.

10. Hitler Chicken,

which is the result of the inexplicable “Nazi chic” craze that gripped Thailand only a few years back. The word “Hitler” doesn’t have some other meaning in the Thai language, nor is it the name of one of the business’s owners. The association with the former leader of the Nazi Party was not only deliberate, but emphasized in their marketing. At one point, the signage featured a drawing of Adolf Hitler, dressed as KFC’s Colonel Sanders, against a red backdrop. Needless to say, KFC was not amused,  and the name has since been changed to H-ler. Still, enough people thought this was a good name for a restaurant that the sign got made in the first place.

Honorable Mentions

These days, there’s a fresh obstacle facing new businesses trying to decide on the perfect name. Even if the name sounds fine and looks good on the sign, the web address can be unexpectedly offensive. Here are a few businesses that didn’t realize they had a problem until it was time to buy a domain name:

  • Therapist Finder – www.therapistfinder.com
  • Power Gen Italia – www.powergenitalia.com
  • Internet Protocol Anywhere – www.ipanywhere.com
  • Via Grafix – www.viagrafix.com
  • Morrison & Foerster, LLC – www.mofo.com
  • Auctions Hit – www.auctionshit.com
  • Swissbit (a German-based company) – www.swissbit.ch

So how about it? Have you come across a name that’s even worse than the names on this list? Do you think an offensive name can sometimes help generate business or does good taste work better? Leave a comment below (especially if you’ve come across a business with a worse name than Hitler Chicken).

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Michael Penkas

Michael is still amazed that he can get paid to complain about pop culture, since he'd spent years doing it for free. In the past, he's worked as a librarian, a typesetter, and an editor. His interests include films and comics from the '70s and '80s. He's also written numerous ghost stories and a mystery novel (which you should read). You can connect with him on Google+.

Comments

  1. Melody

    Entertaining article. As crazy as some of those business names are, they cant help but stick in your head!

  2. Jen

    Totally agree with Melody. Despite the more offensive ones (no genocide happy farm animals, please) I can’t help but think some of these companies did this on purpose. You will never forget them, making it that much easier to find their website and use their services!

  3. Brett Benson

    Champion Blower

  4. Erin

    These are hilarious and mind boggling – I want to see all of their business logos! There’s another spring off article for you, worst business logos. :) Thanks for the info. and the laugh.

  5. Stacy Gruca

    One can only image the thought process that it takes to name a business. Clearly the entrepreneurs who started the above businesses had “shock value” in mind while working out these names. One thing is for sure, they will not be forgotten. The unfortunate part of some of these is that the business name is named after the owner…. think about that for a sec. Yea…. you get it now :) Well done blog!

  6. Altair D. Vega

    I’m sorry but ISIS Pharmaceuticals needs to be on this list!

  7. Shauna

    Ahhh, these are killer! But like Stacy said, they definitely still stick in your head. In fact, I wish I could unstick some of them from my head, lol. Luckily regardless of how shocking your company name may be, QLP still carries the right item at the right price for you to get your name out there — even if that name is cringe-worthy. =)

  8. Anthony

    These are hilarious! Not to mention, they do stick in your head! I don’t know if it is a genius approach to get people’s attention or if they just thought the name was cool! Haha!! 😉 Risky though that people don’t get offended or concerned with what your company actually does and it might bring down your business. I think it’s a high risk but if you can pull it off, then you my good sir are golden! Very fun post! I dig it! 😀

  9. Kelly

    Just 10 more reasons why even bad publicity is publicity. We have a local Sump Tank Pumping company who’s slogan is, “#1 in the #2 Business!” I love when companies can be lighthearted about what they do or have fun with clever company names and slogans. A catchy name or slogan that is memorable could be key to having a successful business. If your so clever people want to walk around wearing shirts advertising for you for free, you are doing something right!

  10. jaimie

    This post is awesome! :)

    As inappropriate as many as these names are, publicity is publicity. These are the type of business names that everybody will remember and everyone will have in their head. While, it is possible they will lose business from some of the more conservative people, there are still so many people who will hear that name and know exactly who it is and what they do. Something catchy like these names always gets more attention.

    Those web addresses are pretty entertaining as well. That can be tricky though for businesses, sometimes you need to just stick with what your actual company name is for when people are trying to search for your website.

    Great post! :)

  11. Jay

    More like BEST business names ever!

    Power Gen Italia – http://www.powergenitalia.com had me cracking up.

    Seriously though, most of these have to be intentionally bad. Pho King is great since most people still pronounce Pho as ‘foe’. Kind of reminds me of City Wok from South Park.

    I’ll never forget speech class in high school when our teacher asked “do you know why things like commercials and business names are almost made to make you hate them?” It makes so much sense! The worse or even more obnoxious they are, the more effective they are. I’m not in the market for a new air conditioner (and hopefully never will be!) but the company who has signs on 294 that say “YOUR WIFE IS HOT” (so get your a/c fixed) already have my money. One of the reasons why I’ve always been attracted to marketing and advertising is just that. You don’t need the prettiest logo or most clever (even worse, appropriate!) slogan, you simply need something people remember.

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