Naming a company is deeply personal and often emotional process very much similar to that of naming ones baby or puppy. Often the goal is to distill the essence of the company in one word (no pressure!) and help a customer to have a consistent and recognizable experience with every interaction.
Generally founders take two paths to naming their new companies. They either choose a descriptive name that explains the products and services of the companies or they choose random names that are meaningful in their personal lives. After making the initial choice, few founders put much thought or time into researching their chosen companies’ names. This can often be a costly mistake. Consider doing taking the simple steps outlined below to successfully pick and secure a good company name.
Research What’s Available & Memorable
Researching your intended company name from the start will help you maximize your time and money resources and avoid the potential costs of rebranding and. It will also help you avoid legal complications and costs that may come from consumers confusing your company with other similarly named companies.
Some common things to check and avoid:
(1) No businesses operates with the same or similar name(s) in your or similar industry.
(2) No current or pending trademark registrations of the same or similar name in your or similar industry.
(3) Social media handles and domain name availability for the names you consider.
(4) No controversy or negative publicity surrounds the name. Consider checking numerous languages.
(5) Your target market appears to like the name and find it memorable.
Acquire the Social Media Accounts & URL’s
Social media has truly grown to be one of the top ways for businesses to advertise its goods and services. Quickly acquire a website address(es) and social media account(s) in all the major channels, even if you do not plan to use them right away. Check to see which ones are available with your chosen company name and secure your rights at least one of those websites right away through an internet domain registry.
Register Your Trademark with the USPTO (http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/).
Registering your trademark is advisable, though not required, because it will give you the most protection and additional rights. You can register both within states and for nation-wide protection. Even if you are not ready to start offering a product or service right away, you can file for an “intent-to-use” trademark application, which allows you more time to prepare, and offers some protection to the name.
Register Your Company Name with the County Your Business Operates From
When you incorporate your business, you business will have a formal suffix, explaining what type of entity the company is (such as LLC, Inc., Corp.) The company name with the suffix is your official company name, but if you choose, you can use a different name publicly on your products and services. To do this file a fictitious business name (such as doing business as or “d.b.a.”) with your local authorities typically in the county in which business has its principal place of business. You’ll need one even if you are just dropping that formal entity suffix in your public marketing or branding. Depending on the importance of the d.b.a.’s you may need to file for additional protection with the USPTO and/or obtain additional website address(es) and social media account(s).
* This article is for informational purposes only and no attorney/client relationship is formed by/through this article. It is not legal advice.
Rachel Fischbein (@RachelFisch) is the founder of Law On The Runway (www.lawontherunway.com) She is a lover of the fashion industry and supporting other entrepreneurial women.
Olga V. Mack (@OlgaVMack), originally from Ukraine is a startup lawyer and enjoys advising her clients on success and growth.
Molly Doering is a concept artist, illustrator, and cartoonist.