How to Choose a Brand Name That Can Be Trademarked

Choosing a Brand Name That Can Be Trademarked

This is a discussion on choosing a brand name that has a better chance of receiving federal trademark protection. It’s not comprehensive and is not legal advice. Always seek advice from a competent professional for important financial and legal decisions.

Choosing a compelling brand name

Branding experts advise businesses to choose a brand name that describes their product or service. However, these names are unlikely to receive significant trademark protection under federal law.

If you’ve been struggling to find a brand name, consider these tips to come up with one that’s memorable and can receive trademark protection.

Bone up on federal trademark law

Original trademarks have more robust trademark rights than ones that are simply “descriptive” of your goods or services.

Original trademarks can be registered on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Principal Register, offering better protection in a trademark dispute. Descriptive brand names are relegated, if at all, to the Supplemental Register, a list of trademarks that don’t meet Principal Register requirements but might still distinguish a company. If your trademark is on the Supplemental Register, you can still sue for infringement, but it means your mark isn’t inherently distinctive, which requires separate proof of distinctiveness.

Brainstorm ideas

Start brainstorming memorable names with structure. Brand consultant Emily Heyward recommends a five-step process:

  1. Assemble your team
  2. Let “loose”
  3. Generate ideas
  4. Do another round of ideas
  5. Assess the candidate names
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When evaluating names, consider naming expert Alexandra Watkins’ SCRATCH principle:

Use an online tool

If brainstorming isn’t fruitful, use our free AI-powered business name generator. Input a few words to describe your brand and generate multiple business names. You can also input your own ideas to ensure they’re available and the best version of your business name.

Test your names with potential buyers

See how your name candidates perform online. Test with real people to gain invaluable insights. Here’s how:

  1. Create identical logos for each name using a logo creation tool.
  2. Sign up for landing page software like LeadPages, Unbounce, or Wishpond.
  3. Build a branded landing page for each name. Keep the copy the same and change only the logo and brand name.
  4. Show targeted Facebook ads to your ideal customers using different landing pages.
  5. Examine landing page analytics after a week to determine the name with the best conversion rate.

While there are many considerations in choosing a brand name, the crowd can provide valuable feedback and help you create a compelling brand.

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