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What’s in a Name? The Process of Naming Your Business

The significance of the naming decision cannot be underestimated.
Among the best remembered names are double entendres (phrases with
double meanings) which are oft en whimsical. One meaning is pertinent to
your industry or company, and the other meaning is often silly or otherwise
It is also favorable if your name makes use of alliteration like “TotallyTwisted”
for a pretzel company, or “WebWave” for a marine-related web site. A rhyming
name could also be positive like DupreesTrees or MellowYellow. You might
also consider having your company name begin with the letter “A” to get to the
top of alphabetical listings or “Z” to be particularly memorable. You can also
mix and match these attributes in an attempt to create an optimized balance.
Nevertheless, you may not fi nd a name that you and your stakeholders like
with these characteristics included, but to ensure you ultimately make the
best decision, spend a lot of time studying your options. Also, get votes and
opinions on your top name options from as many people as possible including
from crowdsources like If you fi nd consensus in a name, then it
is likely to be a great choice. In this case you could add naming questions and
voting as part of your market survey process mentioned earlier in this book. At
the end of the day, make sure you and your direct stakeholders feel comfortable
with your fi nal naming decision whatever it may be.
Before you go forward with the name, be sure that you can buy the “.com”
Internet domain name that is an exact match. For instance, don’t name your
company TotallyTwisted if you cannot buy to use for
branding reinforcement. Doing so would be a failure from which you would
never fully recover. Getting will not suffi ce because your
brand would always be at risk of dilution by the primary Internet brand holder,
which is always whoever owns the exact “.com” extension for any word, phrase,
or company name.
In addition, the name of your business (and therefore your domain and all
of your branding) should be consistent, easy to say, easy to spell, and easy to
You should also be able to trademark (TM) it via the US Patent and Trademark
Offi ce if it is not a generic descriptive industry term. Be sure someone else
hasn’t placed your name in line at the USPTO before you invest in your own
business with that same branded name. If you believe that you have the fi rst
rights to that expression, you could invest in counsel to fi ght the other parties,
utilizing the trademark process to gain legal control of that expression in your
market space. You can locate information on fi ling trademarks and review
existing marks and applications from the US Patent and Trademark Offi ce at, but you will probably require legal counsel nonetheless.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
(a) To get a trademark, the name cannot actually describe the product. For
example, you cannot call your company Hot Pancakes if you are actually selling
pancakes because that would preclude other pancake companies from using
that same basic terminology in marketing which would be unfair. Conversely,
if you named your brand of auto parts Hot Pancakes, you would likely qualify
to get the trademark. Th en others in the auto parts industry could not use the
words Hot Pancakes in their marketing since you gained legal control of that
non-descriptive terminology fi rst. You can protect non-descriptive terms like
Hot Pancakes for auto parts, but you can’t protect descriptive terms like Hot
Pancakes for a pancake company.
(b) There can be no other trademarks similar to yours that are already
successfully registered or in line to be registered. So don’t name your company
TotallyTwisted if you can’t register that identical trademark for your service.
Again, you need the “.com” domain also (in this case to go
with your company name.


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