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What’s in a Name? Tips on Naming or Renaming a Company

Brand3 Team  •  July 18, 2017

Renaming a company? You may be starting a new business or organization, and you’re ready to come up with a good name! Or perhaps, you have an existing business but are unsure of how to improve your current name. It is easy to overlook some critical areas when naming a business; the hope is that this article serves you well and gives you some tips for the naming process.

Worldwide, there are approximately 50 million new start-up company births per year (or about 137,000 per day). In America alone, 27 million working age people – nearly 14 percent- are starting or running new businesses each year. With that, capturing market share becomes increasingly tough, and coming up with the right name can play a big part in doing so.

Coming up with a name that wins over the masses requires creativity and research. While a name itself doesn’t change the components of a product or service, we all identify certain company names with success in the marketplace; think Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, just to name a few.

You need to take several important factors into consideration before making a final decision and officially registering your new moniker. Here are some of the changes to think about:

Retention:

Retention is the most important aspect in name development. So often, names are selected based on meaningful words that are difficult to remember. When marketing a complicated name, you can expect two things: First, the cost to build top-of-mind awareness will increase while the ability to ignite viral marketing campaigns and referrals will be more difficult. The second, almost guaranteed result, is that the market will rename you into something they can retain. So many successful brands have experienced this. Examples would include brands like the Federal Express, now FedEx or the International House of Pancakes, IHOP. The list goes on and on…

Take for example, the founders of H&R Block. Brothers Henry and Richard Bloch founded the tax preparation firm in 1955, but struggled with their last name. The brothers worried people would mispronounce their surname as “blotch;” hardly a term you want associated with your tax returns. They decided to sidestep this problem by spelling the company name “Block” so that no one would miss the hard K sound and, botch, their name.

Availability:

Domain names, or URLs, have grown in popularity thanks to the fast-paced electronic world we live in today. Unfortunately, this means that availability is at a premium. To avoid having to rebuild a new name, check availability first before diving into other critical points of the process.

Registration:

When you go through the naming process, it’s critical you follow the right sequestration of things or you could potentially waste a lot of time and money. You don’t want to get excited about a clever name, pay top dollar for a sharp logo, hire an attorney, and then have the name fail to pass through availability, for instance. Completing comprehensive research in the early development stages is critical.

The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) website is a great place to start to gather a wealth of information. If you have a lawyer in which you are comfortable with, it is always wise to reach out to them for help in this area to provide clarification and guidance.

Mike Hourigan, an attorney with Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew in Baltimore, states that “the best way to develop trademark rights is to start using the mark in commerce. Before doing so, it is wise to review the website for the USPTO to ensure that no other party has registered a confusingly similar mark. If not, even if you do not register the mark, commencing use of the mark provides you with certain common law trademark rights. Registering the mark with the USPTO provides you with certain additional benefits, including nationwide constructive notice of your ownership of the mark and the right to file suit in federal court for infringement of the mark.”

If this all sounds like too much and you’d rather focus all of your energy on your business, you may want to consider outsourcing the process. A branding agency, like us, will bring valuable objectivity and experience.

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