1. Be original
Make up a word. A great example is “Kodak”, one of the strongest brands the world has known because of the uniqueness of the word (and its spectacular fall from grace!).
- mash two words together
- change around vowels in a word
- remove a vowel in a word or just put a few letters together
- a combination of all the above
and see what you end up with!
Once you have a few potential names in mind, follow these four steps to determine if the name is right for your business. A creative name is likely to clear the path for the next 4 tips.
2. Check the ASIC register for existing names
Search the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s (“ASIC”) business name register. It will bring up any company and business names already registered that are identical or similar to yours.
It is important to remember that even if ASIC gives you the green light, registering your business name does not give you any exclusive trading, branding or ownership rights over that name. Only a trade mark can offer that protection. Similar names can be registered but not identical names. Before settling on a similar name move to tip number 3.
3. Check IP Australia
- Choose a name which is “distinctive” rather than “descriptive”. Whilst a name such Kodak is a distinctive word and has a strong likelihood of registration, “Software Developers” is descriptive and unlikely to be registered. Plus, the more distinctive your name is the more likely it is there is not another name already registered.
- Search. Similar trade marks in respect of the same goods or services are rarely registered.
- You can search all registered trade marks using the IP Australia Trade Mark Check, which allows you to search trade mark words, owner names, trade mark numbers and International Registration numbers. You can even upload an image to search for registered logos which might similar to yours.
- Don’t give up at the first hurdle. If someone has trademarked your preferred name, or a name similar to it, you will need to dig a little deeper:
- check to see whether the registered mark is under the same “class” as your name (it is possible to have multiple registrations of similar marks because they are under different classes)
- investigate if the owner of the registered mark is actually using the mark in commerce - if not you could apply to have it struck off for “non use” making way for your name to be registered.
4. Check is the domain is available
Your website is probably your most important business tool, so your business name and domain need to align. The best way to check domain availability is to use the tool on www.auda.org.au. Remember to consider whether you will be registering .com, .com.au, .net, .org etc.
We recommend choosing a name that is available on at least .com and .com.au so that you can register multiple domains and then direct them to your main website. This assists with directing traffic to your website and helps when people type your website incorrectly.
5. Check if it is available on social media
Most startups have a presence on social media which is why it is so important that when considering your business name that you check to see whether you can register it with a suitable twitter handle, Instagram handle and that there aren’t too many several Facebook pages. There are search engines such as https://namechk.com/ and https://www.namecheckr.com/ that can check all the potential social media sites for name availability.
Deciding a business name provides an opportunity for you to be creative in your business! Take your time, search widely and come up with a beauty.