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Winning Name

How to Pick a Winning Name

May 21, 2010

In the early days of the internet when the web was like a small village which has just  one bread shop, one toy shop or one other type of store, it was understandable that businesses were drawn to names like or or as business names not just as domain names.  But with the crowded marketplace that the web has become, why would anyone want to choose such non distinctive names for their business?

Now don’t get me wrong. These are great domain names because they’re fantastic for generating  traffic.  But as business names they suck. Why? Because you can’t get exclusive rights over such names by way of a trade mark. See case which recently failed to get a trade mark despite having traded with this name for some 20 years. Sure you can register the name with a logo, but that effectively protects the logo rather than giving you a monopoly over the name.

Failing to secure a trademark over a word means that you can’t stop others using the word to attract business.  So, you set yourself up with an inadequate name for brand protection. This inevitably affects the brand value too.

Imagine if Google had named itself  Would it have the name recognition and brand it now enjoys? Of course not. The fact that it has become one of the world’s top brands today, has quite a lot to do with the distinctive nature of the name itself.

Reading the Law Society Gazette about the aspirations of a new grouping of Law Firms QualitySolicitors one of my first thoughts as a trade mark lawyer was ‘what a poor choice of name’. Then I had a look on the trademark registers and sure enough they have had to abandon their application for the word mark, and console themselves with a logo trade mark which is currently being advertised.

They won’t be able to stop me or anyone else bidding on Google adwords for the term Quality solicitor. If they aim to become THE first household name as a solicitors brand, they should immediately rebrand and drop this misguided name. The sooner they find themselves a distinctive name the better for them. Michael Scutt also has advice for them in his article here.

When you start out in business or in any venture at all  begin as you mean to go on. Assume that you will be the next major brand in your industry, the next Google, Amazon, or Nike. One thing you will notice about each of these, is the distinctive nature of the brand name they have chosen, unrelated to their target market, but memorable. If you choose a name that describes your business there would be nothing standing in the way of competitors providing similar services, under a similar name, and you would be one provider amidst a whole host of others. If you rebrand at that time, think of all your wasted advertising expenses in becoming known under your descriptive name!  You would then have to spend even more letting people know about your new name. Getting it right at the beginning has to be the answer.

Branding is extremely important in business, and if only more businesses appreciated the need to consult a trademark lawyer before settling on their name. They would then know how important it is to do everything in their power to choose a distinctive, memorable name, and to protect it.