BRAND NAMING: Protect your investment

by Anne M. Berg

At the moment of its creation, your brand has the opportunity to start out strong. When you name your brand, there’s one thing to consider above all else: can you own the trademark? If the answer is no, then select a different name. Or risk your investment melting away.

In order of strength, from weakest to strongest, here are the main categories of trademarks:

  • GENERIC NAMES [weakest]: Aspirin, Eye Clinic, Tax Services
  • DESCRIPTIVE NAMES [weak]: Fast Signs, American Airlines, U.S. Bank
  • SUGGESTIVE NAMES [strong]: Staples, Curves, Nike
  • ARBITRARY NAMES [stronger]: Caribou, Apple, Target
  • COINED NAMES [strongest]: Kodak, Xerox, Oreo

Note that the more a brand name implies the actual product or service it represents, the weaker the trademark. There’s enough inherent risk in starting a business or launching a brand. Why take additional risk by trying to market a brand name you cannot own? Instead, freeze the surety of your investment at the start. Create a strong coined name.