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How to secure a brand name for your new company.

What’s in a name? Umm, everything.

Your brand name is one of your company’s biggest assets. When choosing one, make sure it is easy to remember, easy to say and easy to spell. But also, make sure that you secure all the assets it needs to thrive.

Once you decided on your catchy, cool name, your starting point should be in attaining and protecting the name so that no one else can use it or be confused by who owns it. The simple steps listed below will ensure that no one else can fake being you.

Start with a Google search.

This may seem like the dumbest advice ever, but well, just use Google, okay? Simply search for your prospective brand name and see if it’s taken already.

Make sure that it’s a name that isn’t used or close to anyone else in your same market or industry. You can narrow down the search results to your exact search terms by putting quotation marks around your words. You know, like “Classy Ass Widgets”. 

Look for and reserve available domain names (less than $20 per year).

If www.classyasswidgets.com is available (which it is, I just checked), there’s a good chance nobody is using your name. Buy it up while you can. And here’s an important tip, always hunt for new domain names on a website that doesn’t sell your search results from under you (GoDaddy is notorious for this). We use NameCheap.com to do all of our hunting.

Once you find the URL you want, buy the .com and the .ca. Each domain you own will cost you around $20/year. You should also consider other similar or related domains that you would like to protect (for example, classyasswidgetscanada, or classywidgets) and once your website is done, redirect all of them to the main URL you use.

Register your company ($35+).

In BC, you will need to do a name search and register your business. This is a relatively simple process that can be done yourself.

They will ask you to choose three names for them to check availability, and sorry, but our example name probably won’t cut it if it has the word ass in it. You might have to change your name to Classy Pants Widgets. But hey, this is why you went through this process, to secure a useable business name, right?

Do a trademark search (free).

To do a Canadian Trademark Search, go here. Type your prospective brand name in the search field and review any results that come up.

Don’t lose hope if it turns up results. Look to see if the trademark is expired. If it’s not expired, review the NICE classes to see if they will overlap with your business activities. If there is no chance for possible confusion in the marketplace, then there’s a good chance you’ll still be able to get the trademark.

For example if you wanted to register the name WiseOwl for your tutoring business and another company had registered it for their eyeglasses business, you would likely be approved. If you’re also looking to trademark your name in the US, you can do a US Trademark Search here.

Trademark your brand (minimum $500).

We should note that actually reserving the trademark after your search is a JOB. You can either hire a lawyer to do this for you, or you can do it yourself if you’re a lover of red tape and paperwork. Either way, prepare to spend some money, and also prepare to wait forever to finalize your trademark.

Trademarking your name will give you an extra level of protection. The cost of filing the forms, if you choose to trademark your brand name yourself, is about $500 (see detailed fees for a Candian trademark application here). The process takes about 2 years.

While you are waiting for your trademark to be registered you can use the ™ symbol with your brand name and logo. Once your trademark is approved you will want to update your logo to the ® symbol. 

Reserve social media handles (free).

Even if you’re not ready to start using the ‘gram quite yet, you’ll want to secure all of your social media names right away. Social handles don’t cost anything to obtain but it can be super tricky finding names due to character limits and the sheer volume of people who use social media.

You can use a tool like Namecheckr.com to look for a handle that is available on as many platforms as possible at once, but it’s not always reliable. Reserve names on all the platforms you’ll potentially use down the road, and try to keep them the same across all channels (@sassyasswidgets).

Even if you aren’t a big global corporation like Apple or McDonald’s, protecting your brand name is important. A little extra work now will protect you in the years to come, no matter how big your company gets. Your name, after all, will be an important asset, especially if you ever want to secure investors, franchise or sell your business.

Now the fun part, start brainstorming for names!

Special shoutout to Chandra Blouin for writing the topic of this blog.