What’s in a Name? EVERYTHING!
Congratulations on your decision to start a new business (and your subconscious decision to forego sleep…)! Deciding on a business name might very well be the most important decision you make; it can make the difference between a strong branding campaign or perhaps (gasp!) having to change your name.
You name/brand will, of course, be your product or service name, but also your domain name and often your corporate name (you are incorporating, right?).
So, before you choose your name, consider the following:
- Choose a Unique Name
- Make the Name Brief
- Make the name memorable and easy to spell
1) Choose a Unique Name. When you select a business name you are really branding your business. Branding isn’t just for the big boys, it is crucial to any business as it can give you a competitive edge in the marketplace. After all, you need to make it easy to find you. A brand is “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” In other works, a trademark.
2) Make the name brief (three to six words). Long names are hard for customers to remember. You want customers to remember the name AND be able to tell other people what it is. It is also important that the name be short for promotional purposes e.g. domain names, business cards, displays or advertising ads. Which can ultimately save you on cost for advertising, printing, etc.
Try to make the name descriptive of your product or services, but not too descriptive. If the name is descriptive it can actually draw business to itself. It makes it easier for potential customers to identify the type of business and locate you, especially if you are just starting out. On the other hand, if it is too descriptive, you run the risk that the trademark office might reject your trademark application.
4) Make the name memorable and easy to spell. Potential customers need to be able to remember your business name. They also need to be able to find it easily if they’re looking for it online or in a phone directory.
There are legal implications to consider when selecting a name for your business. You must make sure to avoid misleading names. Avoid names that are similar to other companies as to avoid any trademark implications. Also, do not imply professional credentials that do not exist for example if you are in the health care field but are not a medical doctor do not include MD in the name meaning to imply such.
Once you have a name in mind it is best to research the potential name to make sure it is not already in use. There are several was to research potential business names. Some suggestions are:
- Popular Search Engines
- Patent and Trademark Office
- Local business directories in your market (public library or business license offices).
- Department of State
IMPORTANT: Just because the domain name is available and/or the name is available with your department of state does NOT mean there isn’t a concern for trademark infringement. We will talk more about this later, but it is important to research the name or consult a trademark attorney before settling on a name.