A good corporate name can be the foundation of a great business. A bad corporate name can lead to lost opportunities and expensive re-branding efforts. Given the amount of time and money that you’ll spend marketing, creating goodwill, and associating your products and services with your corporate name, it makes sense to get it right the first time. Here are some tips for choosing a great business name:
Having a name that sounds like something already in the marketplace may seem like a good idea, but it rarely is. It can lead to customer confusion, trade-mark infringement claims and other unwanted consequences. So don’t go starting a friend mapping service and call it Placebook. Make sure to use search engines, phone books, corporate name searches and trademark databases among other things to look for any similar names already in existence. If it sounds like something else out there, find something new.
Consider your online presence.
Make sure the domain name and social media accounts you want are available (think Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Why settle for a modified online profile when you don’t have to? You may also want to secure multiple domain names and/or multiple domain extensions (.ca & .com). If a domain name you want is already taken, it may be possible for you to negotiate a domain name transfer or to get rid of any domain name squatters, but to do so will cost you time and money. While you’re at it, don’t be enticed into thinking that any domain name extension will do. If neither the .ca or .com domains are available for your name, choose something different. An extension like “.pro” may sound cool, but potential customers are unlikely to try that when searching for your website.
Think about future markets.
Consider where you’ll be carrying on business in the near and distant future. If you plan on carrying on business in the United States for example, your name search efforts (prior to choosing the name) should extend to the US as well. If you plan on carrying on business in another location, try not to choose a name that makes sense in your area (like “Prairie Plumbing”), but may not have the same ring to it in future markets.
Make it memorable.
Although Bob’s Baked Goods may adequately describe what you do, it’s not exactly a head turner. You want clients to remember your business name, not just what you sell. Try to choose something that makes your business stand out from the competition. By the way, words like “Apex”, “AAA”, and “Ace” are not unique and will not set your business apart. If major search engines listed all search results alphabetically that may still make sense. Fortunately they don’t.
Don’t forget about trademarks
Registering a trademark provides protection for your brand across Canada, allows for easier enforcement against those that may try to steal it (whether intentional or not), and provides advantages for domain name and social media account disputes. If you want to trademark your business name now or in the future, your name must meet the technical requirements of the Trademarks Act. If you fail to consider this possibility up front, there’s a good chance you’ll choose a name that isn’t capable of being registered as a trademark, meaning your brand can’t be fully protected.