Recently, a friend and business associate decided it was time to completely transition their business away from their current target market of business owners, to a completely different market: brides.

The question arose as to whether this would require a complete rebrand, including a new business name, or whether they could get away with using their existing brand name, and simply rebrand their images and written content.

My friend’s initial preference was to keep their old brand name. But when I pointed out a bunch of jokes and other less than savoury associations for connecting the current brand name with weddings, my friend quickly realised it was time for a completely new name.

I make a living playing around with words. But the suggestions I made hadn’t been obvious to my friend. So I figured it was time to share them here, so business owners like you can avoid making a mistake you’ll regret when choosing a brand name.

What’s the Acronym?

Always consider the acronym or initials of your chosen brand name.

After all, while the brand name “For All Girls” might sound like a cute and inclusive handbag label, the initials are rather offensive. So, no offensive acronyms.

But it’s not just offensive acronyms you need to avoid.

You’ll also want to steer clear of using the same initials as a bigger brand. “Brian’s Menswear Warehouse” might seem like a nice name, but if you decide to use it for your business, you won’t ever be able to use the initials “BMW”. And not only would this potentially be an intellectual property issue, I’d wish you “good luck” at ever ranking on Google for those initials, too.

So keep that in mind when you go to pick a name for your new brand.

Think Dirty

Generally speaking, you’ll also want to ensure that your brand name won’t become the butt of a bunch of dirty jokes. Or other jokes. Naturally there are exceptions to this rule, but it’s still something to think about.

So get your mind in the gutter (you won’t often hear me advising that!) and have a good long think about your brand name, both by itself, and in relation to your market and industry. Are there any dirty, offensive, or otherwise awkward jokes someone could make in relation to the name?

I won’t give any examples – I’m sure you can come up with some yourselves… 😉

Take Care of the Legal Stuff

Last but not least, you’ll need to keep the legalities of your chosen brand name in mind too.

To begin with, it has to be different from everyone else’s brand names. Even if they haven’t used the name for 20 years – or have never used it. In Australia, this means that you’ll need to check ASIC’s business name register to make sure your chosen name isn’t already taken. If it isn’t, and it passes the two tests above, register it immediately so no one can steal your awesome name. (You can browse ASIC’s business name register here.)

Your Brand Name

Well ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. 3 things you must consider when choosing a brand name. The first two might not be legal requirements, but they’re certainly sensible precautions to take. And for the last one – well I suggest you definitely get that one right!

Have you registered a business and brand name recently? Does it pass the 3 tests described above? Let me know in the comments below!

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