Defining your brand is crucial. Brand values will become the backbone to your business. To secure that initial attraction, you need a good name.
What should you think about before picking your business name?
- Don’t be too descriptive. From an IP perspective it’s a nightmare. In the UK and EU, any mark which is descriptive of the characteristics of the mark (including its quality, characteristics, intended purpose or intended users) or any mark which lacks distinctive character for the relevant goods or services, is not capable of registration.
- Invented words have the best chance of success. But they can be hard to generate and more difficult to market in the early days.
- Single letter marks or combinations of numbers are also difficult to protect. But it is not impossible.
- Taglines and slogans are not registrable as trade marks in the UK. This is because they don’t enable consumers to identify the business behind the mark. Keep your slogans for the marketing, rather than your headline brand. This also keeps you agile. You never know when you might need to pivot your brand message…
- Think long term. Investing in your brand allows your business to be more easily recognised. You’re going to spend a lot of time talking about it, so make sure it’s something you love.
- Think about your target market. Will your brand be difficult to pronounce in certain countries? Does it have a local meaning which could be offensive or inappropriate?
- Consider your digital footprint. Does the name translate well to domains and social handles? Are they still available? If you type it out, does it autocorrect to something weird? Is it easy to get the spelling wrong? If you’re wanting to use an acronym does the acronym spell something unsuitable?
- Make sure no one else is using the mark or has rights in the mark. This goes beyond a simple Google search. It requires a clearance search to check the trade mark registers for prior rights.
If you don’t do proper checks before settling on your name and launching the brand, you run the risk of:
- Getting sued for trade mark infringement and/or
- Not being able to get any trade mark protection for the mark – which is not good if you want to convince investors to support your business
There’s no harm working with a branding or design agency to help choose your company name. But they don’t typically do full legal checks as part of their service.
Remember to ask and, if they don’t provide legal clearance searches, make sure these are done before you commit to a name and spend money on graphics and branding.