If you’ve ever been a victim of identity theft, then you know how easy it is for a person to pretend to be you. The same holds true for your business, however it’s much easier and much more common. As a matter of fact you may be the thief without realizing it. While trademarking your name is important to protecting your identity, it’s not the only way you may be losing customers.
Research is your biggest friend when developing a new name. Know what your competitors are using for naming conventions, and make sure to differentiate yourself enough. It’s not just about avoiding unwanted lawsuits which can ruin an upstart business, but it’s about alleviating any confusion with your target audience. A similar name could easily increase the sales for your competitor. Back your brainstorming and research up with a trademark search. I advise most new business owners to spend the money on a trademark attorney.
A business or individual can own any domain that is available without even having a site or business attached to it. In addition to a trademark search, it’s best to do a domain search as well before landing on a final name. Since most customers type yourname.com first when searching for your company online, it’s important to secure yourname.com first. While you can may be able to secure the .net, .org, .tv or any various other domain configurations, it’s not advisable to use these as your main domain address unless you can secure the .com as well. Without the .com domain all of your offline marketing efforts could lead your customers directly to the company that owns the .com, and it’s likely that they are your competition. Most domain names are relatively inexpensive, and it’s often wise to purchase the .net, .org and .tv versions to avoid any confusion as well.
Your name provides the solid foundation to build the rest of your brand upon. If you change your name at a later date you’ll be spending more time and more money updating your logo, messaging, visual identity and marketing materials from your web site to your print collateral. Any change in your core brand elements will always result in attrition, and naming is one of the hardest things to come back from. Customers remember the names of the brands they love much easier than the logos, websites and brand colors.
While it’s important to protect your identity from people looking to misuse it, it’s equally important to make sure that you are differentiated to avoid losing customers to a competitor. Research, trademark and secure your URL before you announce your name to the world, and you’ll have a brand that will serve your customers for years to come.