Now, let’s get this clear at the very beginning: there is no ‘right’ brand or business name. If the time is right and your customers love what you have to offer, it will succeed, no doubt. It is recommended, though, that you think of how trademark law operates before you settle on the name, though. Knowing how it works will probably save you a bundle in legal fees and a lot of time, particularly as your brand grows.
Should it connect with my business?
If the name relates to your business, you will spend less energy explaining your brand to your customers. A good name should reinforce the worth of your business. If you’re having trouble deciding which elements of your business you want to emphasise, turn to your business plan. If you’ve identified your niche markets and written a powerful mission statement, you should be able to use that work to determine what your name should communicate in order to be effective. And no, your company’s name need not be the same as your brand name (for example, the company that owns Naukri is called InfoEdge).
How Important is Brand Recall?
Very important, of course. But there are two ways to think of this: either you get a name that has great meaning for the category you’re in (think of MakeMyTrip) or you take the difficult approach and build a brand around a unique name (think of Twitter). The former might seem the better approach, but it’s not usually so from a legal perspective. This is because it’s very likely that a competitor will pick a similar word (Cleartrip), thereby diluting your brand value. And it’s likely that there’s nothing you will be able to do about this, even if you try in court, as many do end up doing at high legal costs. Completely unique names may seem like a bad choice to your marketing team, but if your business works, this name is likely to have a stronger value than it would have if it were generic, without all the legal costs.
Is My Name too Similar to My Competition’s?
Brands are worth as much as they are (Apple’s, for example, is worth $124 billion) because they can give their owners the ability to charge a massive premium or to sell a lot more than they otherwise would. This is why large brands are so fiercely protective when newer businesses come anywhere near their name – for example, Facebook has trademarked both the words Face and Book within the telecommunications category. Since all successful businesses are on the watch for new businesses that try to trademark a word that’s too similar to their own, you need to be careful about this even while picking your domain name.
Therefore, while getting a domain name, you should ensure that there are no successful start-ups in the same industry as you with a similar name. So don’t try starting a social network called Pinwheel, for example. A simple trademark search would tell you whether it’s available.
Does it have social potential?
All businesses today need an online presence. And to grow an online presence, one of the best things you could do is give yourself a catchy, unique name. Ever wonder why you don’t hear too many boring online brand names (imagine running a website named Parle, for example)? It’s because the online world runs on virality. You need a name (even one with a spelling error in it) that connects with people quickly. Our attention spans are not getting longer, after all.
What are the types of Brand Names?
Finally, let’s examine the type of brand names that can be trademarked so you can start thinking of options for your business:
Unique: Names that have been coined would be included here. Amazon, for example.
Descriptive: Names that describe a product or service. Naukri, for example.
Suggestive: Names that suggest a product or service. MakeMyTrip, for example.
Arbitrary: Names that are meaningful, but nothing to the product or service in question. Apple, for example.