What is in a name? A lot. Your business name serves as a first impression to your customer, and can convey more than you realize. Follow the steps below to find an original name that helps set the tone, and accurately represents what your company is trying to achieve.
1. What is your voice and who are you talking to?
You must know your target audience to know how to best communicate with them. What feelings do you want to evoke from your consumer? Do you want to be smart and funny? If so, a clever play on words might be the way to go. Are you looking to be nostalgic? A name that suggests a distinct time and place could help transport your customers. Do you want to be straightforward, frills-free, and easy to understand? A simple descriptive word or an acronym may be enough to convey your purpose.
2. Who are your competitors?
It is absolutely essential to understand your competitive landscape. Take inventory of all your competitors and differentiate yourself in the naming process. What is their specialty? How do they differ from your business? What is your value proposition – or why is your offering better than the competition’s? What are they doing right, and what are they doing wrong? Pick a name that allows you to stand out, and in the process you’ll also crystallize what makes you special.
3. Is your name available?
Coming up with a name is relatively easy. Coming up with a name that you can get a URL, social media and a trademark for is not. Search using GoDaddy.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to see if your preferred domain and handles are available. We also recommend you do a general trademark search to make sure no businesses have reserved anything that resembles your own name. Specifically look to see if companies within your industry have reserved a similar name.
Once you settle on your name, reserve the URL on Godaddy.com, get your social media channels, and file an “Intent to Use” trademark. (Trademarks provide legal grounds to protect the originality of your name and logo within the your industry.) Once the “Intent to Use” has been filed, the founder’s intellectual property will be retroactively recognized. At this point you can use TM next to your name if you are providing goods, and SM next to your name if you are providing services. These marks have no legal significance, but indicate you are claiming branding rights your name, and can dissuade others from using it themselves.
And after you’ve officially launched your business and begin providing goods or services, you can file a “Continued Use” trademark and register the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Months later, when your trademark registration has been granted by the USPTO, you can use the official ® symbol next to your name!
This may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through, but after all the time you’ve spent conceiving your name and brand, you need to protect it!