How to Name a Business

How to name a business

How to name a business, service or product.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title.
— Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II. William Shakespeare

Although Juliet may recognize Romeo were he to change his name, a manufacturer that changes its name or the name of its product runs the risk of losing many customers who can’t find the product anymore or who don’t trust the new name behind a product they thought they recognized.

8 principles of naming a business, service or product

  1. Appropriateness. Is there a reasonable fit with the business purpose of the entity? The brand name should symbolize the image and values desired to be associated with the brand.

  2. Distinctiveness. Does it stand out from the crowd? The brand name must distinguish the brand owner’s goods or services from those of its competitors.

  3. Simplicity. Is it short enough to be easily recalled, used, and spelled after hearing it spoken? The brand name should be simple and easy to understand, easily remembered, easily readable and pronounceable.

  4. Likability. Will people enjoy using it? The brand name should be meaningful. A name should communicate positive product attributes and avoid unpleasant connotations.

  5. Availability. Can it be registered? The proposed brand name must also be legally available in the countries it is proposed to be used. The availability of the mark for use and registration must be assessed separately in each country. Consideration must also be given to the availability of domain names and social media handles which include the brand name or a substantial part of it.

  6. Global Implication. In a global market there are a multitude of linguistic and cultural issues which will affect the choice of a brand name. The pronounce-ability and the meaning of the brand name in each relevant language must be considered.

  7. Extendibility. Does it have “legs”? Can it be used for other products or services that you might offer in the future? Brand extensions represent an opportunity to use the equity built up in the name of the existing brand in order to introduce a new product or service.

  8. Protectability. Can it be trademarked? Obtaining a trademark registration will facilitate the protection of the brand name by granting exclusive rights to the trademark owner and providing for public notice of such rights. The essence of a protectable trademark is its distinctiveness.

Name Searches

How to make sure the name that you have selected for your business has not already been taken or is not deceptively similar to the name or trademark of another business?

  1. Web-Based Search Engines. Run the proposed name(s) through a number of different search engines and review the results.

  2. Domain Names. Run the proposed name(s) through a Domain Registry website such as Google Domains or GoDaddy. Look for all the relevant domain extensions based on the location or category of your business, service or product.
    There are 280 domain extensions in total and these ten domain extensions unite a whopping 150 million registrations:
    .COM, .DE (Germany), .CN (China), .NET, .UK (United Kingdom), .ORG, .INFO, .NL (Netherlands), .EU (European Union), .RU (Russia).

  3. Social Media Handles. Run the proposed name(s) through all the social media platforms that you plan to be running.
    You can use websites like Namechk. Namechk is a free username and domain search tool. The fastest and most efficient way for you to search for your desired username across hundreds of social networks and domain extension - all at once.

  4. Traditional Directories. Although we are in an electronic age, there remain businesses that do not have a web presence. Therefore, it is still important to search traditional phone directories, trade directories, and other sources for names that may conflict with a proposed business name.

  5. Trade-Mark Database. Run the proposed name(s) through the relevant Trade-Mark database to your business location to make sure another company hasn’t already registered an identical or similar mark for the same categories of goods or services you offer.
    For US, United States Patent and Trademark database
    For Canada, Canadian Trademarks Database
    For UK, United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office
    For EU, European Union Intellectual Property Office

Coming up with a good business name can be a complicated process. You might consider consulting an expert, especially if you're in a field in which your company name may influence the success of your business. Naming firms have elaborate systems for creating new names and they know their way around the trademark laws. They can advise you against bad name choices and explain why others are good.

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