Tag Archives: choosing a name

choosing names

Don’t Choose Names Without Involving a Trademark Lawyer Who “gets” Branding

choosing namesThe 7 Costly Mistakes People Make When Turning their Big Idea into a Business, or when Branding or Rebranding Anything

The name is a key part of your brand identity. It’s possibly the most important decision you will ever make. It has the potential to make or break your business. Don’t entrust this work to people who don’t thoroughly understand the legal dimension of names. Or if you do, then be sure to include trademark advice in the mix.

Involving a trademark lawyer who “gets” branding to help you to identify a new name is the ideal. It is the most cost-effective way to get a name that makes your idea sing. Why? Because such a lawyer will understand both the marketing and branding function of a name and the trademark and IP dimension. IP is one of those subjects where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. On the other hand, using a lawyer who doesn’t understand branding might not give you the best business solutions, even though you will get good legal advice.

There is a lot of legalities around names. You need to know which ones are ownable or are already taken. You need to understand which names will be liked by the ideal client so that they can be effective from a marketing perspective.

People often get help from a designer to choose a name even though there is nothing about names that requires graphic design input. While some designers may have expertise in naming, the vast majority do not. They may do one or two naming exercises a year, if that. So, they don’t know as much about names as they need to know. Some I’ve come across tend to choose unsuitable names from a legal perspective. Many of them assume that the right to use a name comes from domain or company registration. That’s all the checks they’ll do, and sometimes they don’t even do google and domain name checks. Most don’t check the trademark registers and leave you to get the name checked out by your own lawyers,

Make sure you consult a trademark specialist if that’s the case. Your general business lawyer won’t be as well placed to assess whether the name is one you can stop others using and how difficult it would be to enforce your rights in that name.

It’s possible to register any name with a logo but what value does that give you if you can’t then stop competitors stealing your market share when they use the same name with a different logo?

If you don’t consult someone experienced in names, then you risk ending up with a trademark which effectively just protects the logo rather than the name on its own.

To identify a name that reflects your positioning, that is protectable as a word mark and that you can stop others from using in ways that confuse the market is something that requires a good understanding of trademarks and branding.

Inventors and entrepreneurs often believe that simple tasks like choosing a name for a new product do not involve legal consideration. This is not true.

For one thing, you could lose everything overnight, as Scrabulous did. The two Indian brothers that developed an app enabling people to play a word game online with friends anywhere in the world were unaware that using a name that was like someone else’s trademark would be a problem. Their app was a huge success, until Hasbro, the owner of the Scrabble trademark, found out about the company. Hasbro had no trouble getting Facebook to pull the app. So Scrabulous vanished from one day to the next despite having hundreds of thousands of users.

Had the two brothers realised that their choice of name could shut them down they would have chosen a different name for their online game. But they didn’t take advice from trademark experts to investigate the trademark implications of their choice of name. It’s just not worth the risk.

Although Scrabulous rebranded and got back on its feet, the IP problems were a huge set-back for them. Zynga was able to take advantage and enter the market with Words with Friends. It is now the market leader.

Even where you have limited resources, you should think carefully before foregoing help from a professional to carry out a search of the trademark registers.

Think of your brand name as if it were a physical plot of land, and your branding and business as buildings you would build on that plot. What you don’t want is to find that you’ve built on property that you don’t own. Ownership of your brand name is key before you build your brand.

Tips to Choosing a Name That is Ownable and Enables You to Stand Out

choosing a nameThe 7 Costly Mistakes People Make When Turning their Big Idea into a Business, or when Branding or Rebranding Anything

Did you know that choosing a name is an important IP decision? The name is one of the most valuable assets you potentially create when turning your idea into commercial form. It’s how your brand will be recognised in the world. There is a lot more to names than most people realise.

Whatever the idea, it’s likely you’ll choose a name for it. If you choose the right type of name, you’ll have the foundation of a great brand.

Not only do you need to choose a name that’s ownable, and resonates with your ideal clients, but you’ll also need to make sure the name does not infringe on somebody else’s trademark rights. With trademarks that means the name mustn’t even be like someone else’s name in your industry. People wrongly assume that a common word cannot possibly be monopolised by somebody else and they, therefore, don’t realise that they’re not free to choose certain types of name.

A common mistake when choosing names is that people assume any name will be suitable. They tend to like descriptive names and believe this is the way to go.

There is a lot more to names though. If your idea succeeds, the name will be one of the most important protections of your business concept. Making a poor choice of name can be a very costly mistake because the wrong name might make it that much harder to stand out and get recognition in the market.

The top 3 most successful brands in 2019 were Apple, Google and Amazon, according to Interbrand. Their value is predominantly contained in their brand names. A good name can make or break your business or idea.

An example of a bad name is one that purely describes the business activity – a keyword rich name.

Your name is your ‘badge of origin’. It’s how customers find you. So, your identifying brand name needs to be distinctive and memorable, and most importantly, one that you can uniquely own.

Purely descriptive names are not ownable. When a name isn’t ownable, it means you build little brand value. Your competitors can freely use the same name, and that ultimately means less revenue for you, and very little protection for your business.

If you already have a name, it’s generally best to stick with the same name unless there is a strong reason to change it. Reasons to change a name are if it is purely descriptive, or it’s developed a bad reputation, or if it’s limiting your potential in some way.

A good approach when you don’t have a big budget to inject meaning into a totally made up name, is to choose a name that is suggestive. In other words, a name that is kind of descriptive of your business model without blatantly spelling it out. An excellent example of a suggestive name is DELIVEROO.

When looking for a name that is suggestive of what you are selling beware of veering too far towards the descriptive. A name that was too descriptive was Clubcard. The name describes a loyalty card program, so it has not been accepted for registration as a trademark and everyone else can use the name that Tesco spent hundreds of thousands promoting.

Another example of a name that wasn’t ownable was the tagline “Think Green” because this is a common message used by many worldwide organisations.

Depending on the industry you work in, you might use your own name – think Gucci, Armani, and Selfridges.

Many successful brands have become memorable using a name that doesn’t relate to their business at all – for example, Galaxy chocolate, Google or Apple Computers. If Larry Page and Sergey Brin had decided to use the brand name ‘Search Engine’, how would you recommend them to a friend? They wouldn’t have been able to uniquely own such a name, so wouldn’t have become so well known.

If you want to describe what your business does, then the tagline is the way to do that. For example, a descriptive tagline right next to the brand name will help your distinctive name.

In our case, we use Azrights as our name, mainly because that’s always been our name (it denotes the A to Z of IP rights services that we started out offering when it was rare for IP firms to offer the full range of services). Our current tagline is “Lawyers for the Digital World” describing that we are lawyers focused on online business. We will be changing this soon to reflect the new direction of the business as an IP consultancy and brand strategists now that we offer BrandTuned.

BrandTuned (or Brand Tuned) is a name we came up with because we wanted a name that incorporates the word “Brand”. We wanted to be able to use the name for our new service, but also to use it internationally for an online course, a book title (look out for the BrandTuned book out later in 2020), and also for a podcast. It turned out that the .com of the name was available so we secured the domain too even though it hadn’t been one of our criteria that the .com should be available. There are so many domain suffixes you can use these days. It really limits you to only choose names based on availability of the .com.

The name is one of the most important ways to make your business distinctive. The wrong name really can make it a struggle to be in business. Picking a name that is not ownable for the purposes and geographical markets in which you intend to use it, puts a ceiling on what your business can achieve.