Branding Basics – Step 8

So now you have one or two names you believe are absolutely perfect for the business. Now comes the frustration. 

You search the USPTO (that’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) on-line database (http://www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm) only to find someone else already owns the precise set of characters you’ve chosen for your name, and they are competing in the same industry category. 

Or you may find by searching the Department of State databases in the states you plan to do business that there’s a competitor using the name.

It may be desirable that your name also be available as a domain name. (There may be a better domain name for your website than you company name depending upon how people will reach your website. You may want a domain name that speaks more directly to how your prospects think about your product category or keywords.) 

Creating a name that is available for trademark, domain name and state(s) incorporation registration can be frustrating and time-consuming.

I get more naming business from entrepreneurs who have fallen in love with a name they can’t own, and can’t move past it. They get stuck and just can’t generate any more adequate candidates. Since I’m not emotionally involved, I can continue generating appropriate candidates ’til one meets the criteria and is available. It sometimes takes multiple iterations.

But even if you’ve performed a successful preliminary search doesn’t mean there’s an end to it. You would do well to then go to a trademark attorney or one of several firms specializing in making comprehensive name searches. They will first search every state and territory. They will search databases with alternatively-spelled configurations for phonic infringement. They will review international trademark databases if necessary. 

You may be able to adopt a name that someone else is using if it’s in a different industry classification, or you may be able to buy a name from a registered owner if necessary.

Once you’ve found a name that you can legally use that meets all the branding criteria, it would be a wise move to trademark it, and to register it with the Departments of State in the states you will have a physical presence.

Developing and protecting a viable name is probably the single most important branding activity you will perform. That name will represent your company for many, many years. It will develop into an asset of great value over time – assuming it lives up to your promise.

So here again, I admonish you to brand smart from the start.

Next time we’ll look at logos.

Martin Jelsema
303-242-5975

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