There have always been services where you could walk into your local print shop, look at a book of logos, and pick one to go with your new company name. In some cases, you could have simple design or color changes too. Of course, this is an ideal application to move to the internet provided you have some quick designers with access to a big database of designs. And such was the birth of the low-cost online logo “factories”. For many people they provide a great quick and economical service.
In fact, they are spoiling many people with their $500 logo design services. Imagine your complete company image resting on a design cheaper than your old one page brochure used to cost!
But such is life in the internet age, to the point where people now want to know why they can’t get a name for $500 in a similar fashion. They think that surely someone, somewhere, has a database and some talent to produce some good name ideas for any new business or product quickly for a low price.
But wait a minute. There is no real estate land grab going on for logos. A logo designer has millions of colors to work from, millions of arcs, swooshes, images and ideas. And in most cases, owners and designers don’t care (or even know) if someone has used a similar design before. As long as they avoid the relatively small number of famous and registered logos, most of which have a name as part of them, you don’t have legal issues to worry about.
On the other hand, there are a million companies registered in the USA each year. Each needs a name. Many would like to have a name that is not the same as two counties over, let alone two states. They would like a name you can say easily on the telephone. You would like a matching domain name for your website because you will use your name a lot in email and online marketing too. You would not like to be confused with your competitor. And you surely would not like someone to sue you for infringing on their trademark, even if they never got around to registering it with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The USA is one of the few countries where there is no single place to register a business. If you start as a sole proprietor, in most states you simply file a DBA with the local county. If you call your restaurant Monster Sushi, they don’t check to see if there is another Monster Sushi in other counties, nor do they check to see if there is one incorporated at their own State level, let alone a neighboring state or one on the other coast. And they don’t even ask you if you have checked with the Feds to see if someone has a registered trademark on the name Monster or Monster Sushi in international class 43 (food services). And there is nowhere for them even to ask you what your internet domain will be.
And if you want to have a stand at the 49’rs football stadium, now called Monster Park, is that OK? Or do you have to pay Monster.com – the big job bulletin board who had nothing to do with the naming the stadium except great, good fortune? OK, so finally you know the stadium is named after a cable company, and you don’t make cables, and you found that the domain MonsterSushi.com is a restaurant in New York, so you are going with MonsterSushiCal.com and you don’t care what anyone else says. You like the name and you pray and hope none of those there before you send the dreaded cease and desist letter. Even as they expand into your neck of the woods, with a name they had before you! Now you know why your lawyer will usually charge more than $500 just to properly check a name. And double or triple that if you want an international search. He knows what the risk factor is if you infringe on someone else’s intellectual property, even though it is a self-policing system.
These are some of the major issues a naming agency has to contend with, even as they try to find an appropriate name your management team can agree on. And they only have six vowels to work with, and twenty consonants, and you probably still want a word you can pronounce and spell. But luckily you are working in English, which has the biggest dictionaries in the world since English is derived from three roots (Latin, Anglo Saxon and German) and not one major root like most other languages. However, an average college graduate has a working vocabulary of 80,000 words (at most – and some same much less). In other words, you know and use less words (if you are smart) than one week’s average filing for new .com domain names!
You will use your name a hundred times a day on the phone and many more on email. You may only use your logo a tenth of those times, and usually only then when you consult in person and hand out business cards. A long time ago, Al Ries and Jack Trout (*) wrote that “Your name is your primary weapon in the battle for the mind“. Surely your company name is worth ten times a cheap logo. If not in marketing, then definitely in legal insurance.
(*) Positioning, the Battle for the Mind.
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