How to come up with a brand name: from idea to trademark registration
It seems obvious. If you have a new product, you need a new name. That is true, but even that statement is not as straightforward as it appears, if you want a truly effective way of coming up with a good brand name for your business.
It may result from a reactive approach, whereby you wait until a product is nearly ready to launch before working on the name, but best practice is to be proactive. If you can begin working on a brand name before a product is realised, it will save time and give you space to get the best-possible outcome. That means getting involved with your product teams from the beginning, and making sure the legal and marketing functions are engaged.
With any new brand, it’s a good idea to select multiple potential names at the start of the process. These should be decided based on what the brand is for, which jurisdictions it needs to work in, and how the brand name will engage your customers. Different parts of a business will likely have different priorities for a brand name (though they will all want it to be cleared quickly!), and managing those competing desires is part of the process.
Once you have a shortlist of brand names you need to undertake various different checks, including:
- Trademark search – this can be done in-house or with an external provider, but it is vital to check the names you want are available and can be protected in the jurisdictions you need.
- Language checks – think about all the countries in which you plan to use the brand name, and check for meanings in the local language. Companies have made errors in the past by launching brands that have unintended and sometimes offensive meanings in other languages.
- In some industries, such as pharmaceuticals, there may be regulatory constraints on the way you can name a product. Bear these in mind.
- Filing strategy – identify your key markets and develop a filing strategy to protect the brand name.
Companies in some industries face particular challenges with brand names, especially when it comes to name creation. In fashion, for example, the life of a particular brand can be very short, and there is no way of knowing how successful a particular collection, for example, is likely to be. As a result, you may need a high volume of brand names in this industry.
Not only do fashion companies require a large number of different brands; they also need to develop them quickly, since new brands may be launched every season. This can put strain on the business, since the volume of search required is likely to be high. Having a strategy and the correct resources, whether internal or external, to support these efforts is key.
If you can navigate the potential difficulties of how to come up with a brand name, it becomes a relatively straightforward process. Pooling ideas from the relevant stakeholders in advance of launch will give you time and options for developing a registration strategy.
Once you know the name or names you want, the key is to identify priority jurisdictions for the brand name to work in and pursue registration in those jurisdictions. Assuming you’ve conducted effective searches, either in-house or with an external partner, registration should be relatively straightforward.
However, there are some pitfalls to be aware of, especially in highly-competitive industries. It’s important not to fall into a registration gap, where you have protection in some jurisdictions but not in others. As such, it’s worth coordinating your filing efforts to ensure that you file in all key jurisdictions at the same time. This will involve working with local agents, either directly or through an external partner who manages the process for you. Make sure you shop around for the best rates since local agents can add significant cost to the process.
Coming up with a new brand name can seem daunting, especially given that in many industries, the brand is the root of a product’s value. But with the right approach, it can be a stress-free and productive process.