Establish your brand, get noticed, and save your business from becoming a trademark horror story.
Maybe you’ve been running your business for a long time, or perhaps you’re just coming onto the scene, taking the first steps to get your creative business off the ground. Either way, you’ve probably been faced with crossing one crucial task off your list: coming up with your business name. This can be one of the most difficult undertakings when you’re just starting out. You’ve likely thought long and hard about it, pondering just the right combination of words to perfectly capture your brand. Wherever you are in your business journey, you should trademark your business name as soon as possible. Keep reading to find out why.
Psst: not sure what trademarks are or the difference between trademark and copyright? Check out last week’s post—it’ll tell you everything you need to know: How to Protect Your Business with Trademark and Copyright
1. Trademarking Your Business Name Establishes Your Brand as an Authority
Your business name and your brand share an important relationship. Your business name is an overarching part of your brand, and your brand is how your customers view your business. It’s the image they have in their minds when they hear your business name, and it distinguishes your brand from someone else’s.
The name you choose for your business is the first interaction a potential customer or client has with your brand. It sets tone and expectations in your customers’ minds.
For example, what comes to mind when you hear the names “Nike”, “Facebook”, or “Coca-Cola”? These brand names carry a reputation. Due to successful branding and marketing in addition to protecting their business names with trademarking, these businesses have solidified their place in the market and established themselves as authorities among their competitors.
Trademarking your business name, even when you’re just a fledgling business, shows that you’re serious about your brand and what you offer your customers. It prevents other entities from using a business name that is similar to yours, so that when people are searching for a particular product, your business name is top of mind.
Being taken as a serious brand and a trusted subject-matter expert in your market is essential for business growth. When customers trust your business and believe in your brand, they are more likely to buy from it.
Be warned: a really good way to lose your customers’ trust in addition to your brand’s authority is to become involved in a public and costly trademark dispute.
2. Trademarking Your Business Name Makes You Stand Out and Get Noticed
Today’s global marketplace is extremely competitive. If your business offers any of the following services:
- web design
- graphic design
- brand development
or any other creative services, you’re competing against a lot of other people for business. So how do you set yourself apart?
Going through the trademark process and having a lawyer do a comprehensive search for any other similarly-named business can ensure that you have a unique business name that is different from any of your competitors (which, by the way, is exactly what is included as part of the Artful Contracts Brand Protection Package).
For example, say you offer graphic design through your business, and you’ve chosen the name “Graphic 22 Design”. You do a quick web search to see if another business exists with the same name, but you don’t see any. You begin doing business under your chosen name, spend the time it takes to create your brand, set up your website… and then realize that there is a “Graphic 19 Design”, “Graphic 36 Design”, “Graphic 23 Design”, and more! Your business quickly gets lost between these similarly named businesses, and what’s worse, since your name is so similar, it might be infringing on another one of these businesses’ trademarks (whether registered or not!).
Having your business name trademarked (and maintaining your trademark; more on that later, keep reading!) means that your business, with its brilliantly unique name, gets noticed first.
3. Trademarking Your Business Name Protects You From Costly Legal Troubles
Scary stories are for horror movies, not small businesses. But if you haven’t protected your business name by trademarking it, that’s what you could be setting yourself up for.
Here’s one such example. In 2001, two businesses, Duckhorn Wine Company in California and Duck Walk Vineyards of New York, sued each other for trademark infringement. Duck Walk insisted that Duckhorn change its name, while Duckhorn countersued for infringement of their trademark. After 4 long years of legal proceedings (and thousands in court fees), the businesses settled, but with the stipulation that Duck Walk put the name of the geographical area where their grapes were grown on their wine’s front label (a hit to Duck Walk considering winery owners who don’t grow in well-known regions like Napa/California usually prefer to put this information on the smaller back label). Since Duckhorn had registered their trademark first, they had the upper hand in the negotiations.
The lesson here is that when you choose your business name, you should trademark it as soon as you possibly can so that (1) you have a unique name (mark) that doesn’t put you at risk of infringing on others’ trademarks; and (2) you have the advantage of being an earlier trademark user in the event that someone tries to use a business name similar to yours.
If you are still taking those first steps into the business world, trademarking your business name might seem like something that can wait, but for all of the reasons outlined above, it should be a task to cross off your list early, as it’s just as important as choosing the name itself.
The Advantages of Trademarking Your Business Name Don’t End There
- If you register your trademark with the USPTO, you’ll be able to use the ® symbol, which shows the world that your business name has been federally registered.
- Your business name will be nationally protected, not just protected in your state.
- If your business name is trademarked, it makes it easier to register that trademark in other countries.
Keep Your Trademark Safe!
Trademarking your business name is one of the first and most important steps in building and protecting your brand. Your business name, as mentioned above, is usually the first interaction your customers have with your brand. But in addition to registering your trademark, you have to maintain it in order for it to be protected. To get comprehensive guidance on registering and maintaining your trademark, purchase the Brand Protection Package.
The Brand Protection Package starts with a free 1-on-1 consultation with me, a lawyer, who wants to help your business thrive. I’ll complete a comprehensive trademark search to make sure your business name isn’t infringing on any other businesses (even ones that are not federally registered, because unregistered trademarks, even though less protected than registered ones, are a thing!). I’ll also do all of the paperwork and super scary legal stuff so you don’t have to, and give you guidance on how to keep protecting your trademark even after you’re registered.
If you’re ready to protect your business, establish your brand, and get noticed, book your free consultation today!