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.
a 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,
a 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,
a 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.
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.
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).