Updated: Jan 6, 2020
Selecting a brand name is a critical part of creating a successful long-lasting business. To help you in your selection process, check out our “Top 5 Things to Consider When Picking Your Brand Name!”
1. Think Big!
Always choose a brand name with the expectation that your business will grow and expand to include other products and services. This means that your brand name needs to be flexible. For example, let’s say you have dreams of launching a clothing empire, however, to limit your startup costs you opt to make swimwear your first business venture. Keeping your dreams in mind, refrain from picking a brand name that limits you to swimwear in the future. Don’t discount your dreams so early in the entrepreneurship game or put your business in the position where a costly rebranding effort becomes necessary when your clothing empire becomes obtainable.
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, design, or any combination thereof used to identify and distinguish your brand from your competitors. More importantly, trademarks provide you with the exclusive right to use your brand name on a national scale (as long as you continue to do business) and bars the trademark registration of any confusingly similar marks! However, do understand that every brand name is not trademarkable. As a general matter, the degrees of protection and whether a brand name will be afforded any trademark protection is based on a sliding scale.
Fanciful words are afforded the strongest trademark protection because they are inherently distinctive. These are “made-up” words that only have meaning in relation to your brand’s product or service. Notable examples include Exxon and Kodak.
Arbitrary marks are similarly afforded strong trademark protection because they are also inherently distinctive. These marks consist of “real words” that are used in a way that is inconsistent with their dictionary meaning. Examples of arbitrary marks include Apple and Blackberry.
Many entrepreneurs want a mark that explains their brand’s products or services while still receiving legal protection under trademark law – if this is you then a suggestive mark may fit your needs. Suggestive marks relate to a characteristic, attribute, or some other aspect of a brand’s products or services. Such marks are still considered inherently distinctive and are afforded moderate legal protection under trademark law. The dilemma with suggestive marks is that they are often misconstrued as descriptive marks, which do not receive trademark protection without acquiring secondary meaning. Examples of suggestive marks include Netflix and Kitchen Aid.
Descriptive marks merely describe the brand’s products or services and are normally not afforded trademark protection because of their lack of distinctiveness. However, an exception will be made for descriptive marks that have acquired secondary meaning. Proof of secondary meaning generally requires evidence of longstanding use as well as evidence that consumers associate the descriptive mark with your brand’s products or services.
Generic marks solely define your brand’s products or services without any level of distinction. These marks do not receive any trademark protection. Examples include “cars,” “smartphone”, or “email.”
For assistance with evaluating the trademarkability of your proposed brand name or registering your trademark, book a consultation with our office!
3. Watch Out for Infringement!
Imagine investing time and money into developing a brand and then one day you’re served with a cease and desist letter barring your use of what you thought was “your” brand name. Unfortunately, this is a legal pitfall that many business owners fall victim to. Make sure that your proposed brand name hasn’t been trademarked at the state or federal level. Use of registered trademark is in most instances illegal and could lead to a costly infringement lawsuit! We recommend hiring an attorney to do a thorough trademark search of your proposed brand name to avoid legal liability.
For assistance with conducting a trademark search of your proposed brand name, book a consultation with our office!
4. Get Into the Mind of Your Consumer!
Studies show that it takes as little as 7 seconds for a consumer to form a first impression of your brand and that roughly 77% of consumers make purchases solely based on a brand’s name. Because of this, you want to make sure that a consumer’s first impression of your brand name is both positive and memorable. Here, are a few things to consider:
Is your brand name easy to pronounce and spell? A majority of your consumers will likely use the Internet to search for your brand’s products or services, therefore having a brand name that is both easy to pronounce and spell will make it easier for a consumer to find and purchase your brand’s products or services. Don’t allow your competitors to monopolize the market because consumers can’t seem to locate your brand!
Is your brand name original? Research indicates that 72% of the 100 Best Brands are named with made-up words or acronyms, so be creative in selecting your brand name but don’t venture to far off the reserve.
Does your brand name create positive imagery? Word choice is a critical component of developing a brand name. Stay away from words that evoke a negative emotion with your consumers. The last thing you want to do is create an association between your brand and anything negative! Also, be sure to check the meaning of your brand name in the foreign countries that you intend to conduct business in to ensure that your brand name isn’t offensive to your overseas consumers.
Remember, the goal is to select a brand name that can help turn your first-time consumers into repeat customers!
5. Domain Names!
Be sure to search a domain name availability database like GoDaddy or Rebrandly’s Domain Name Search to ensure that your brand’s desired domain name is available. This could also give you some insight into whether your proposed brand name is available!