The Smart Way to Name Your Company
When you're starting a new company or rebranding, you'll create your name, logo, and tagline from a marketing perspective. Your brand needs to tell your customers how you’ll solve their problem.
You also need to look at it from a legal perspective. You’ll need to make sure that your name, logo, and tagline are available.
Companies trademark the right to use a name, logo, tagline, or hashtag. Then, they’re the only ones who can use it in their industry.
It’s so important to pick a brand that is available and hasn’t been trademarked yet. Otherwise, you could be sued or forced to rebrand.
Here’s how to pick a name…
1. Pick a Protectable Name
Some words can't be trademarked. They’re free for anyone to use.
But it’s important for you to trademark your name.
Once your company starts doing well, you’ll see other companies popping up with similar branding. They’ll try to confuse your customers and steal your sales.
Without a trademark, there’s no way to stop them.
That’s why I don't recommend a name that can't be protected.
Here are some words to avoid:
Avoid one word names. They’re usually taken, unless they’re foreign words that don’t directly translate into English or they’re completely made-up.
You cannot protect words that literally describe what you do or products you sell. For example, you can't trademark hotels.com or the term "high heels."
You can't protect words that describe the ingredients, quality, use, or location of product. For example, Peach Body Scrub or California Candles.
You cannot protect company names that only consist of a last name.
You cannot protect the location where you produce the products or services, especially if it's a noteworthy location that is known for those products or services. For example, you couldn't protect Los Angeles Apparel because Los Angeles is known for producing apparel.
You can't protect words that may deceive customers about the products or services. For example, the words gold, silk, vegan, or kosher would be deceptive if the products were not actually made of gold, silk, vegan, or kosher materials.
You cannot get around another company's trademark by misspelling the word. For example, Starbuxx or Luluu Lemmon.
You can't protect a word if you're using it on an ornamental part of the product. That means words across the front of a t-shirt cannot be protected. However, words on the tags or logos on the front pocket of shirts can be protected.
You can use these words in your brand, but you need to have words that can be protected, too.
2. Pick an Available Name
A lot of names are already trademarked.
You’ll want to run a trademark search to see if your name is available.
It's not as simple as inputting your exact company name and hitting search. You'll need to search for similar sounding words, similar spelled words, alternate pronunciation of words, and foreign translations.
Once you find the search results, you'll need to determine if any of these brands are too similar to your name.
If they’re too similar, then you can be sued or forced to rebrand. Plus, any trademark applications you file will be denied and you won’t be issued a refund. So it’s really important to make sure that you run the search correctly.
That’s why it’s best to have an attorney run your trademark search. It needs to be done correctly to make sure that your brand is available before you start using it.
Read More: How to Tell if Your Brand Name is Available
If you didn't find any similar brands, you probably didn't run the search correctly.
We always find a few brands that could be an issue.
Then, we research the Trademark Office's past decisions to see whether they'll be an issue for your application.