How to Select a Strong Brand Name

When it comes to selecting a name for a brand, product, or service, trademark attorneys often take a different approach than most marketers. Our main consideration is whether or not a name is unique enough to be protected with a federal trademark registration. However, finding a name that aligns with your brand, while still being unique enough to trademark, can be a daunting and overwhelming task.

Consider the following three tips when choosing a strong, unique name to represent your brand, product, or service.

How to create a strong name for your brand, product, or service

1. Consider a mutation of an existing word.

When creating a name, consider a mutation of an existing word. For example, look at the shoe company Zappos. The company originally started with the Spanish word “zapatos,” which means shoes in Spanish. However, as you cannot trademark the foreign equivalent of a foreign word, they slightly altered (or mutated) it to “Zappos.” Likewise, Google chose their company name in a similar fashion. They transformed the term “googol,” which is the largest number, and created the brand “Google.”

Both of these company names are examples of mutations. They each started with a common word and tweaked it to become a new, unique name that is extremely protectable under trademark law around the world.

2. Combine two words to create a new word.

The second way to think about creating a really unique name is take two or more words and combine them. Examples here would be WordPress and Instagram.

WordPress is an example of simply taking two words and putting them together to make a one. By combining those words, WordPress created a very unique brand name that represents their product offering well. Similarly, you don’t have to use full words to come up with something for your brand. Instagram, for example, took ‘Instant’ and ‘Telegram’ and morphed the words into something totally new.

3. Create a two-word phrase.

One final way to come up with a unique name is to create two-word phrases. For example, look at The North Face and Under Armour. Both of these trademarks, wouldn’t work if you only look at one of those words. If it’s just ‘North’ or ‘Face,’ or ‘Under’ or ‘Armour,’ you can’t associate the word to the brand. But, when you combine those words into a phrase, it creates a unique trademark.

What to avoid when creating a name for your brand, product, or service

Now that you know how to create a new, unique name from simple words, here are three

1. Avoid using common English words

Avoid using single, common English words when creating a name as they can be difficult to clear from a conflict perspective. There could be dozens, if not hundreds, of clients using that word in their name, and you could find it challenging to stand out in the marketplace. Likewise, you could actually be infringing on another individual or company. Typically, simply taking a very common word and trying to make it your trademark is not going to be the best way forward.

One instance where a common English could be appropriate is if the word has absolutely nothing to do with your industry. For example, Apple uses a common word, but it’s not at all related to the tech space.

2. Avoid using laudatory phrases

The second point is to avoid using laudatory phrases, such as ‘Great’ and ‘Elite.’ In other words, try to stay away from words that heap praise you’re your particular product or service. These words are highly descriptive and often result in trademark registration refusals because they just are not unique enough.

3. Avoid using common industry terms

Finally, it’s important to avoid language that is common in your industry. This is, perhaps, the number one problem we see as a trademark firm. It is so common to see people in an industry gravitate towards certain language because it’s what they hear day in and day out. If you want to stand out from your competition and be memorable, leave all the industry language behind and choose something unique.

Selecting a name for your brand, product, or service is a big decision. Be sure to invest enough time to properly choose a unique, but relevant name to represent your company and offerings. If you have any questions about protecting your name with a trademark, feel free to reach out to us through our contact form.

Josh Gerben, Esq.

Josh Gerben, Esq. is the founder and principal of Gerben IP. In 2008, Mr. Gerben started the firm to provide high-quality trademark services at reasonable prices. Today, he is recognized by the World Trademark Review as a top trademark filer, having registered over 7,500 trademarks. The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and may not be relied on as legal advice.

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