The following is an edited transcript of my video Tips for Brainstorming New Business and Brand Names.

It’s not easy to come up with a great name today, nor has it ever been. But it is still possible—especially with these tips—to come up with a name that is bold, unique, and protectable. I suggest that you begin with pieces of words and names. Think about suffixes, prefixes and syllables, and not entire words. Think about ones that might help resonate a message about your business and about your brand, and what you’re trying to convey to the consumer. Are you trying to convey experience, or are you trying to convey youthfulness, novelty, wisdom? It starts with the brand name, it starts with this word and with the elements that go into the brand name.

Think about what that message is, some syllables that might help convey it, and then start to think about combinations of those syllables in unique and new ways, or taking some syllables and adding them to other words. Netflix, Uber, Amazon – great brands that are out there from the last decade, the types of names that don’t immediately hit you over the head about what they’re doing. But when you know what they do, they strongly suggest something about it. You can see why I love suggestive brand names most of all here.

Once you’ve got some ideas for names, it’s important that you also don’t focus on just one name from the outset, because if you fall in love with one name and then find out that it’s not available, it really stifles the whole brainstorming process and makes it harder to go back and generate new names because you’ll naturally be stuck on the one name that you love that’s not available.

Focus on a whole list of possibilities, whittle it down to 10 or so, do some preliminary searching on major search engines and the USPTO website, narrow it down to 3-5 names. Then you want to talk to your trademark attorney and start to think about this short list of names. What’s possible? Do we see any obvious conflicts? If not, should we order a comprehensive search to really do a deep dive on one or more of these and hopefully get a green light? Nobody’s ever going to be able to tell you that a name is entirely risk-free, but hopefully if you come up with a variety of names to start, in the end you’ll wind up with at least one that has a very low risk associated with it.

At the end of that process, after you’ve worked with an attorney to do a comprehensive search, if you have that green light, you want to file immediately for intent to use trademark application and start protecting it. Because too often, I see businesses that come up with a good name and then put it to the side while they work on getting the funding and getting all the details necessary to start the business. That might be a six-month or a year-long process, but if they haven’t filed that trademark application, they’re completely exposed and vulnerable during that window.

If somebody else happens to come up with a very similar name in a similar industry during that time process—if there’s no application filed—that name that was so great could be very vulnerable by the time the business is launched. See the visual for tips for brainstorming your new brand name. If you’d like to discuss the process for your brand and your business, or if you’re ready to perhaps order that comprehensive search or start that trademark application, reach out to me on our website. I look forward to hearing about your brainstorming process.


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