Isn’t it funny that sometimes a new business or course name will just pop into our heads and other times it seems to take forever to come up with a name?
As a practicing Trademark lawyer, I regularly give people advice on the best practices to use when picking a business name, so I wanted to share a few tips with you here!
First and foremost, before you pay an expensive (or even cheap) designer to create your logo and other branding elements around your chosen business name, the first thing you want to do is make sure that you’re not infringing on anyone else’s business name or trademark. While this is always important to consider, it’s especially important if you plan to be involved in interstate commerce or have an Internet presence. Ideally, you would want a trademark attorney to run an in-depth search on any potential business names you want to use. This search will check trade databases, trademark registries, domain names, business entities, and scour the Internet to find uses similar to yours. The expense of running a comprehensive name search pales in comparison to a trademark infringement suit or having to rebrand all of your media, advertising, etc. after you have begun using it.
Second, names that are suggestive, arbitrary or fanciful rather than descriptive of the products and services you offer are always going to be more easily Trademarked and will distinguish you better from your competitors. For example, Apple as a brand name for computers is arbitrary and highly distinguishable from something like Your Laptop Device Company. Also, you simply cannot trademark Apple when used to describe the fruit apples since it is “descriptive” of the thing you referencing. There is nothing wrong with having a descriptive name like Your Laptop Device Company, but if you plan to build a brand and register a trademark, you will want something distinct.
Lastly, there are 2 different trademark registries. One is the principal registry where most of the arbitrary, fanciful and suggestive marks are registered due to their distinctiveness. The second registry is called the supplemental registry, where a bunch of descriptive marks are initially registered. The difference between the two registries lies in the level of protection you gain as a registered trademark with the principal registry essentially giving you more protections, but the supplemental also keeps infringers at bay. Something to consider is that after 5 years of doing business even with a descriptive brand name you can reapply to be put on the principal registry due to gained market recognition and distinctiveness through consistent use.
If you are struggling to come up with a brand name that fits your business, I highly recommend the book Hello My Name is Awesome by Alexandra Watkins, which goes over a ton of naming tips and tricks and also lays out a strategy for creating amazingly suggestive brand names.
P.S. This blog contains an affiliate link for the book Hello My Name is Awesome.