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Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting a Business Name

Like many, I’m sure you’ve toiled over finding the perfect name for your business and how to establish that subtle mix of appeal and innovation that expresses exactly who you are and what your business offers. A memorable name can create a buzz and do wonders for a new business owner. But how do you know what names to avoid when making this all-important decision?

Choosing names that are too long, hard to remember and spell are definite no-nos. You want something catchy and easy to pronounce. Don’t forget to do a search in the federal trademark database to make sure that the name you’ve picked is not already registered by someone else. You can do this on the U.S. Patent and Trademark website, www.uspto.gov.

If your ultimate goal is to build a recognizable brand, there are a few common mistakes that you MUST consider when selecting a business name:

1. Description. Avoid choosing a name that is descriptive or obscure like “The Red Store” or that uses an ingredient, color, feature, or other characteristic that isn’t original or unique.

2. Name. Avoid choosing a name that is not recognized as having significant or secondary meaning in the marketplace. For instance, Nakia Gray is not likely to be trademarked (as lovely as my name is, it doesn’t have significant or secondary meaning...YET). Now Beyonce’ or Kim Kardashian would have much better chances than me.

3. Geography. Avoid choosing a name that includes a geographic location. This will most likely cause customers to associate your name with a region or location and this can limit your business growth. Although these tend to be popular, what happens if your business ends up tremendously successful and you want to establish more locations nationally or even internationally? Unless you are positive you will remain in one area, avoid including geographic locations in your business name.

4. Confusion. Avoid choosing a name that is very similar to a name that is already registered or has pending registration. For example, if “Urban Sunshine Photos” is already registered, it’s a bad idea to try to register “Urban Sunshine Photography.” They are too close and trademark conflicts are decided based on the similarity of marks and how similar the products or services being offered are.

5. Commerce. In order to trademark your business name it must be “used in interstate commerce” meaning whatever your product or service, you must either do business in more than one state or affect the marketplace in more than one state.

Don’t forget that once you’ve established that the business name you want to use isn’t already registered, you’ll definitely want to trademark it!

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