This article was first published by IP Australia
I had just passed the one year mark in my business. I’d spent the last twelve months working hard to build a small portfolio of loyal clients and learning everything I could about risk management and commercial insurance.
It was fast paced and I hadn’t had a chance to slow down. If I wasn’t serving clients, I was educating myself on the industry, networking and in the spare moments in between, I was doing the admin for my business.
Then, one day, my leads dried up and business slowed. Christmas was only a few weeks away so that didn’t help because many business owners are too busy or had sorted out their insurance in the months prior.
Rather than take a break, I used the time to plan my business for the future. This is when I found out how hard coming up with a unique business name actually is (especially in the financial services industry).
It all began when I came across another financial business with the same name. They didn’t provide insurance but we were in the same space. It was too close to home, especially when you consider trade mark classifications. I didn’t want to be linked with another financial services business with the same name.
I looked into their history and business details to work out when they were incorporated, who they worked with and if they had registered their trade mark.
There was no trade mark.
I thought my chances were good in getting them to stop using the name if I registered the trade mark.
Boy, was I wrong. It didn’t quite work that way.
I sought the advice of a solicitor who gave me two options:
- Send them a long, scary letter and hope they change their name. Chances of this working: slim to none.
- I change my name.
I knew I’d lose a fight (not that I wanted one) so I decided to rename my business because I was in the very early stages and a name change wouldn’t really hurt me. Besides, it would be a fresh start to the new year ahead.
I wanted the new name to meet these five criteria:
- unique (never been used);
- available domain name;
- cheap domain name;
- a logical meaning; and
- didn’t step on any trade name toes.
After weeks of digging through the internet, I was mentally exhausted from brainstorming names. Even a manager at the insurer I was affiliated with told me how hard finding a unique name would be. He shared the story of how difficult it was for them to find a unique name. It wasn’t cheap either because they paid thousands to buy their domain name.
Finally, I thought I found one that ticked all the boxes. I was excited. I quickly bought the domain, hired a designer for a new logo and registered the trading name. Then ASIC tells me that the word ‘trust’ was restricted.
It was back to the drawing board.
I turned to naming services and online forums for help. But all the suggestions from hundreds of people worldwide had already been used or had the domain name taken.
I was losing hope and nearly gave up at this point. If the internet couldn’t suggest anything original, what chance did I have on my own?
But I persisted, knowing that I didn’t want to face the problem of conflicting names after I had invested more into growing my business and more people knowing about it.
One day I came across an article about how the popular Intel Pentium was named. It was a combination of Penta (reference to other Intel products) and the suffix -ium (to connote a fundamental element). I decided to try this approach.
I asked myself, ‘what do I want my name to mean?’
I knew I wanted it to say ‘protection’ and ‘business’. I looked for synonyms of these words and combined the words ‘industry’ and ‘guardian’.
That’s how Indagard was created.
Tips for finding a brand name
If you’re trying to come up with a unique name for your business, here are some lessons I learned which may help you.
Brainstorm. Grab a piece of paper and spend an hour, jotting down every name you can think of. Even the weird ones that may not mean anything. Don’t filter, just write. Then put it away until the next day. Come back and cross out all the names that you don’t like the second time around.
Now, go to a domain name registry. Go through all the names you kept to find a .com, .com.au or .net available. If it’s on backorder, move on. You may find some unavailable names are parked and not being used. You can try to contact the owner, but in my experience expect to pay thousands of dollars to have it.
Next, search IP Australia.
Enter the words that make up your new name. Understand the trade marks classifications too, because a registered trade mark may only apply to some industries. If you operate in a different industry, this means the name may still be available for your business.
You may also want to look at global trade marks in case you trade in other countries. I used WIPO.
Before you register your business name and domain address, I recommend understanding the ASIC guidelines for names to save you time and money.
It’s best to consult a trade mark professional and accountant at this stage because trade marks and company name registrations can get a bit tricky.
If all checks out, you’ve found a unique name for your business that you can register for a trade mark and has the website domains available.
Break out the champagne!