How To Choose a Brand Name
So, you’re starting a new business. You have the idea of how your new venture will generate income, but, this whole concept needs an identity. You need a brand! This is a sticking point for many people, spending months deliberating over names, logos, domain names etc… It often creates so much confusion for people that the project never even gets started.
Well, It’s essential to get your brand right from the start, before proceeding to register your UK trademark. If you discover that you’ve made a mistake after launching your business, it can be devastating! You’ll lose all the goodwill you’ve built, wasted money on design, wasted money on advertising, wasted money on business stationery, lost trademark registration fees, and if you’ve manufactured products to sell, it can destroy your business altogether.
But, what could possibly go wrong? It’s just a name and logo after all… Well, what if you invest all your time and money setting up your new venture and then discover you’ve infringed on a registered Trade Mark?. You can be forced to stop trading under your brand name and face paying damages to the Trademark owner.
What if you choose a name that cannot be protected with a Trademark, so, anyone can use your brand name? This makes it impossible for you to invest in building a good reputation and makes it very hard for potential customers to find you. What if they find the wrong company that has a bad reputation?
What if you choose a brand name that is hard for people to pronounce properly? It might not seem like a big deal. But, have you considered that soon, everyone will be searching the internet with voice?
What if you choose a name that is almost impossible to get good search engine rankings for because the word is so common within your industry, or, associated with a completely different industry that has billions spent on SEO from companies competing for rankings. How will you get a look in?
What if you have a logo designed, it looks great. But, when it’s used across the internet on small mobile devices — it just looks like a splodge. Completely unrecognizable… Or you could have your logo designed and then later discover that you don’t own the copyright.
I could go on, but, you get the gist…. There are lots to take into account. And I’ve just scratched the surface above. But, let’s start at the start. You need to choose a name. One of the most common things people do is pluck something out of their head and roll with it. But stop! It’s fine to write a list of everything that comes to mind. But, before you choose one, use the checklist below against the names you like.
BRAND NAME CHECKLIST:
1) GOOGLE SEARCHES Is anyone else using it? Start by running google searches and see what comes up. If someone else is all ready using it for a similar business DO NOT USE IT! Regardless of if the other person owns a Trademark on the name, it will make it harder for you to get ranked in search, it will cause confusion for your potential customers, if the other business gets a bad reputation it can reflect badly on you and it’s simply not a nice thing to do to the other business. They might have spent lots of time and money building their name and if you start using it too, it will just cause stress for both businesses. And, if the other person has been trading for some time and has built brand recognition and goodwill, this could prevent you getting a Trademark on the name and if the business can demonstrate that you’ve caused damage to their business, they could take you to court.
2) UK TRADEMARK SEARCH Is the name a registered Trademark in the territory you wish to trade in? Don’t assume that there is not a registered Trade Mark if Google Searches did not show up a similarly named company. There may have been a Trademark registered more recently, there may be a trademark that ‘Sounds similar’ but is worded differently. Trademarks are not just related to the spelling, but the sound of a word too. For example, a furniture brand called ‘Reds’ could conflict with a furniture brand called ‘Keds’. It’s essential to at least check for any obvious directly conflicting Trademarks to help prevent you infringing on another Trademark. We offer a FREE basic UK Trademark search HERE Just put your details in and we’ll send you a report notifying of any directly conflicting marks.
3) DOMAIN SEARCH Just because you’ve found no one else using your name in your area of business and there is no sign of conflicting Trademarks, don’t assume the domain name will be available. In this day and age, it’s hard to pick up good short letters only .com and .co.uk domain name. If you can’t get your brand name in a .com or .co.uk (Ideally both) you might want to rethink. Yes, there are lots of other domain extensions you can choose from. But, if people only know your brand name, the first thing they’re most likely to do is to type YourName.com Again, if you don’t own that, then you have no real control over what an owner will do with it and that can cause you all kinds of problems in the future. You can look for creative variations, but the domain ideally needs to be as close to your actual brand name as possible.
4) PRONUNCIATION TEST Is it easy to say? Write the name down and ask at least 15 people to say the word, if there is too much inconsistency you need to rethink it. It’s so important that people can say your name easily. If you want people talking about you and recommending you, your name needs to be easy to pronounce and easy to remember. If people are unsure of the correct pronunciation, they’re less likely to recommend you for fear of looking like a fool. Don’t put your customers in this position, make it easy for them to talk about you. The other thing that must be considered in 2019 is the way internet search is changing. There is a rapid increase in Voice Search and this is a trend that is expected to become the norm. People will be searching Google by saying your brand name. Make it easy for people to pronounce and make it easy for search engines to show your brand.
5) TRADEMARK PROTECTION TEST Can your brand name be protected if you want to Trademark it? Even though you’ve checked for conflicting Trademarks, that doesn’t mean that your name is within the regulations for UK registration. It is highly recommended that you protect your brand legally with a UK trademark registration as soon as possible. It gives you piece of mind, knowing that you can invest in your brand without the problem of someone using a similar name in the future or outright stealing your brand. There are other situations where a Trademark is required. For example, Amazon sellers require a Trademark to take advantage of Amazons ‘Brand registry’ service https://brandservices.amazon.co.uk. It’s highly likely that it will become more and more important to have a registered Trademark with the rise of online commerce and brands competing internationally. There are many things that can make a brand name fail to fall within the regulations for protection as a UK Trademark. One of the main things that will prevent a name getting registered is that it’s too descriptive. If your brand name describes your product/service then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to register your name as a trademark. As an example, a bed manufacturer called ‘Trees’ is non-descriptive of the product. However, a bed manufacturer called ‘We do Beds’ is unlikely to get accepted as a Trademark. This means, you’ll have no protection and anyone else can call their company something similar. You can get a FREE report! Just fill in the quick form HERE and we will let you know if your Trademark is unlikely to meet the regulations in the UK.
6) UNIQUENESS TEST Is it original? You have to keep in mind how people will look for and search for your products. It all happens online. Even if you’re a bricks and mortar business, people will search for you online. If you want to be found easily, don’t choose a word that is commonplace within your industry, or worse, a word that's commonplace in general. Be creative and use a word that’s unusual, the less the word is used in relation to your industry, the more chance you’ve got of getting ranked in search results.
There are of course exceptions to the rules above. Depending on your strategy you might have a good reason why you want your name to be descriptive for example. But in general, if you want to build a brand that can be protected, is easy for people to find, easy for people to recommend and will not cause unnecessary complications, then follow the rules above. This way, when you begin investing your money in marketing, product creation, stationery, signage and building a good reputation with customers. You can feel good knowing that it’s all an investment into a valuable brand. Your brand is an asset, the goodwill you build, the exposure you create and your ability to protect it from copycats, is what makes your brand valuable. It’s one of the most important assets your business will own. So make sure you get it right from the start!
We’ve tackled the name here. and in the next branding post, I’ll talk about the other elements that make up a strong brand.
I hope this has given you some things to think about. We’re always happy to try and help with advice. If you have any questions about your branding feel free to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try and help you out.