What’s in a Name?
One of the most important decisions when starting a new business is choosing a name. Whether it says exactly what you do, or is one of those made up names, it is ultimately how people will remember you, refer people to you, talk about you at parties, business functions, and networking events.
In addition to traditional considerations such as trademarks and proximity to other names, in the Internet age, serious consideration needs to be given to whether or not the name will be available with your preferred generic top-level domain (gTLD) e.g. .com, .co.uk, .nl, .de, .com.au et al. As most people will know trying to match a generic name using dictionary terms and a serious gTLD is often like playing the lottery. So it begs the question, is it better to invent a new name that no one has ever heard or would you be better off using a name that describes what you do?
The simple answer is that it really depends on what you wish to achieve in and with the business. The two schools of thought on the subject go like this.
Made up names are the strongest in terms of possible domain name registration with a serious gTLD and in terms of being able to protect yourself with a trademark. In this regard think Google, eBay, PayPal, Twitter, Facebook; no Facebook was not a real word before Mark Zuckerberg and his friends popped a few jolt colas and pizzas on night at uni.
A word of caution though, although these types of names are easier to protect they do not tell your target market what it is you do or the types of goods and/or services you provide. The result can be a higher marketing budget requirement as you seek to establish brand recognition in your niche.
Names that describe what you do provide immediate identification in the mind of the consumer as to what the brand is about (e.g. EAST SYDNEY THAI). The downside of this however is that domain names are rarely available and establishing a trademark may be next to impossible.
Unless of course you are clever and do what the Bavarian Hospitality Group did in Australia, namely they trademarked “Pure Bier™”!! Yeh! I know what you are thinking. You can just see some blokes sitting around a table with a Maß of Munich Helles thinking let’s try to trademark “Pure Beer” … at the time I believe Cadbury was fighting what proved to be a losing battle over obtaining a trademark for the colour purple, or at least the shade of purple they use. Then, our German friends, realising that this was probably too much trying to come the raw prawn and at the same time also realising how thoroughly ridiculous the Australian public service is they decided to add the German spelling to one word!! Hey presto, we have a trademark of an otherwise near impossible phrase to trademark! …und bedankt!
But back to our friends with the Thai restaurant. Imagine someone opened up shop around the corner, down the road, or across town and called themselves SYDNEY EASTERN THAI. If one could obtain a trademark then it would be difficult to stop the other obtaining a trademark. In terms of domain names and being found, they will both be competing heavily for the same space as the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Ranking (SER) work they would perform for each would probably be very similar; and SER & SEO work and the cost thereof is a whole different discussion.
Whichever way you go give the name of your business due consideration. If you intend to run anything more than a local operation with customers coming only from a five kilometre radius then the name and the further implications of that name in terms of domains, trademarks, SER, SEO etc must play a role in the decision you reach.