How to Select a Business Name and Trademark It

Picking out a name for your business is an exciting step. As you start to brainstorm ideas for your company name, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions, including:

  • Does this name reflect my brand?
  • Will customers be able to associate my offerings and services with this business name?
  • Can my business name be easily spelled and pronounced?
  • Is this name unique enough not to be confused with another business?

A great business name should be able to answer these questions (and more). The name you choose will identify your business and its offerings to the world. Make a big impression by following these simple guidelines that can help you decide on a name. Then, you’ll be able to secure that name by filing to register a trademark.

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Tips for naming your startup

Consider using relevant keywords

For the following example, let’s assume that you have a telehealth practice based in Los Angeles.

Your business name may include keywords, like “telehealth” or “Los Angeles.” Not only do these keywords explain a bit more about your offerings, they also allow your business name (and subsequently, its domain name) to become a bit more SEO friendly. If you follow good SEO practices, potential customers typing these keywords into search engines will be able to discover your business. This helps to increase not only your website traffic, but your search engine ranking, as well.

Keywords are not a requirement in the business naming process. However, it may be helpful to use them depending on your offerings and the target audience you’d most like to reach.

Simplify the spelling

Some entrepreneurs choose to give their business an elaborate name. It sounds impressive and cool. That’s great for the brand’s image, right? Maybe not so much.

Take a moment to step back and examine your company name. Can you easily spell it out, or are you using a unique pronunciation that might be confusing? Do not overcomplicate the spelling process. Pick a name that has five to 10 letters and at least one consonant. Avoid using hyphens, numbers and any other special symbol that further draws the name out and confuses your customer base.

Following these tips may leave you with a slightly different name than the one you started off with, but you may find this simplified version is actually a lot better for business than its overwrought, slightly more confusing counterpart.

Related: 6 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Name for Your Dream Business

Speak the name out loud

You need to know what your business name sounds like when spoken out loud. After speaking the name out loud yourself, have a friend or family member do the same. Listen to how they say the name. Can this name be easily pronounced? Does the name sound aesthetically pleasing? Is it meaningful and does it convey your brand’s offerings?

Your business name will appear everywhere, from print store signage to logos to social media platforms. It’s important that the name looks and sounds appealing to your target audience and reflects exactly what you have to offer in this industry. If you find you need to return to the drawing board and brainstorm some more on the look, spelling, and sound of your business name, do so. It’s better to spend some extra time on this step and get it right in the first place rather than rushing through the process.

However, if your business name has met all of the guidelines above, you may be ready to register it as a trademark.

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How to trademark your company name

The name of your business is considered to be its trademark. A trademark distinguishes a business and its visibility to the world. Once a trademark has been registered, the owner retains exclusive rights over the mark. This ensures nobody else conducts trademark infringement or attempts to pass it off as their own creation.

Conducting a name search

Before you file to register a trademark, it’s important that you conduct a name search first.

You may conduct the search with the help of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)’s trademark database: Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). Or, you may work alongside a third-party trademark registration service.

Conducting a name search allows you to see if there are any registered trademarks or pending applications for the name you wish to trademark. If there are, you will not be able to trademark the business name. However, if there are no trademarks pending for your specific business name, then the name is available to use.

Filing trademark registration

Once you know that your trademark is unique and available for use, then you may file a trademark application to register the mark. Remember to pay the filing fee associated with the application. Within a few days, the business name should be a federally registered trademark.

What comes next after your trademark has been registered? Remember to purchase the proper domain name (your name search should allow you to determine whether or not this is also available) that matches your trademark. You will also need to reserve the proper social media handles for your business. If some of these are not available under your new trademark, it’s okay to make a few subtle variations, such as using the word “the” or an underscore, for the brand’s social media accounts.

Now that you have your business named and your trademark taken care of, you’ve completed another step in getting your business ready for launch. Congratulations!

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