The reason your business name is so important is that its part of your business identity. A good business name can help to set you apart from your competitors and demonstrate the type of business you are, and the clientele you want to attract, and this is why it needs protection using trademarks.
For example, if the word discount appears in a business name you immediately think lower prices, but do you also think they provide a lesser service? I’m not sure.
If the words rapid, fast, or speedy are in a business name, I’m expecting quick service, and if I don’t get it, I’d be annoyed.
Is Your Business Name Too Cool
Everyone wants to have a cool business name, but it’s important to note that your business name is the first image that you put “out there” about your business, so it must be a reflection of the type of business you want to have one day.
So when you develop your business name make sure it represents you correctly. Remember, your business name can attract or repel people, so you do need to give it some serious thought, but don’t try to be too clever.
You Can Change Your Business Name
Here’s some excellent news though, if you currently have a business name and you’re no longer happy with it, change it. There’s no law against this.
This is especially important if your business has changed and evolved of the years. Where your business starts is not where it has to finish.
Your business may previously be known for providing a particular service, but if your business now provides different services make sure your name reflects this change.
A Simple Business Name Is A Good Business Name
When it comes to creating a business name you should make sure it is easy to remember and easy to say and read. A simple name is a good name, and it should also be unique if possible.
Avoid being too generic.
And if possible, do not use words everyone else in your industry is using. For example, in the health industry using the word “clinic” or “centre” at the end of the business name is common, but they are what I refer to as nothing words.
For example, if a business was called ABC Podiatry Centre or ABC Dental Clinic, you’ll quickly remember the word centre or clinic, so if there are ten businesses all ending in centre or clinic, you can see how your business name may get lost in the crowd.
Here’s a quick test for you to try. Look at your business name and remove nothing words and see if it still has the same meaning. If it does, then do it.
Check If The Name Is Already Registered
Before you go any further with a business name, always check if someone else is using a similar business name to the one you are considering. A simple online business name search in your country will take you to the appropriate websites.
In Australia: ASIC - Australian Securities & Investments Commission
You’ll be surprised how many businesses have similar names, and they wonder why there is so much confusion online.
More and more people are searching online for goods, services and quality information, so if they type in your business name, or something similar, will they get your business or will they get a competitor’s business that sounds similar to yours?
This can be frustrating if you’ve been busting your butt on advertising and marketing and your competitor is simply sitting back and enjoying your efforts.
Check The Domain Name Is Available
It’s also important to see if the domain name for your business exists. Domain names are valuable real estate, and there would be nothing more frustrating than registering your business name only to find out afterwards that someone already has the domain name and all the variations.
When I see a business name, I expect the domain name to be identical to the business name or a slightly shorter version. For example, a friend of mine Nicky Jurd owns a website development company called Precedence, and her website is precedence.com.au, as expected.
If the domain name is available, I’d suggest registering both the domain in your country and also dot-com, as the dot-com is popular and universally recognised.
So, if you live in Australia purchase the (.com.au) domain, and if you lived in the UK, you’d grad the (.co.uk) as well as the (.com).
Can Your Business Name Grow With You
Another question to ask yourself is can your business name grow with you and your business?
If you’re planning world domination will your business name still work, or does your business name contain your current street address or city where you operate? This will only be a problem if you decide to expand in the future?
Odd & Funny Spelling
Next, I want to discuss misspelt business names.
The jury is still out on business names deliberately misspelled. It may look clever on paper but if you’re having to always spell it out for someone so they can find you online because of odd, incorrect spelling, is it a clever name, especially if it could be spelt correctly and have the same meaning?
For example, I’ve spoken to business owners who have used Phyx instead of Fix and 4U instead of For You, and on both occasions, they’ve had to clarify their business name and more importantly their website address. So, be careful.
BUT, this doesn’t mean odd spelling business names won’t work long-term, be aware you may have to work a little harder at the beginning for people to understand what you have done with the name.
Business Names Hold Value
Once you have created your business name, and I cannot stress this enough, you need to protect it because your business name holds a lot of value.
Just having it registered in your state gives you no protection nationally, so the best option is to register it as a trademark.
Register A Trademark For Real Protection
You can register a trademark yourself online, which I have done on eleven occasions, or you can seek legal help, which may be the better option if you have concerns, or you’re planning to go international. Of course, it will cost more using a lawyer, but it will be money well spent.
I discussed trademarks and business names with one of my past guests, Donna Patane, on Episode 39: Don’t Take A Sword To A Gun Fight, which is worth checking out if you're wanting to learn more about protecting the business name you’ve created.
Monthly Checks Online
The final point I want to mention about business names is to regularly check online if someone else is using your business name in another state, and this is especially important if you have a registered trademark.
It’s also important to do online searches because some companies may try to import products from other countries that contain your trademarked business name.
This happened with our Shoe Store Walk Right Footwear. Another Australian company tried to import footwear from overseas called Walk Right, but because we had a trademark, we were able stopped them.
Take Immediate Action
If you ever find a company or individual has breached your trademark you need to take action immediately, and if you do not feel confident contacting them yourself you need to seek legal advice. Never put it off.
So I hope you find this information helpful and remember your business name is one of your greatest business assets, so protect it.
If you have any questions about this blog/podcast, please email me
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