Pass It On

Tidbits and treats from the Sunnyvale Public Library Reference Division

What’s in a Name? September 14, 2007

Filed under: Business,Patents & Trademarks,Uncategorized — svref @ 3:39 pm

How do you choose a business and product name and why is it important?  How do you know if it’s all right to use a particular name?  These are just a few of the kinds of questions a business owner may ask about naming a business and product. 

Generally, the public identifies and distinguishes a particular business from its competitors by the company and product names.  The entire good will and reputation of a company is associated with its name and the names of its products and services.


For help in creating an appropriate name for your business and products, understanding the legal aspects, learning how to spread that name in the world, and how to gain insight into the power of branding; take a look at some of the following books found at the Sunnyvale Public Library and also at some online resources:


 Trademark: Legal Care for Your Business and Product Name  by Stephen Elias includes step-by-step instructions written in everyday language to guide you in choosing a name, conducting a trademark search, registering a trademark, understanding trademark law, and resolving disputes.

Crafting the perfect name:  the art and science of naming a company or product by George Burroughs Blake.  The name a new enterprise, whether it’s a new company or a new product, can have huge influence on its success.  Examples of good names and bad names are highlighted and an eight-step strategy is presented to help you arrive at the one perfect name.


Naming Your Business and Its Products and Services by Phillip G. Williams introduces some ideas to consider when choosing a name, highlights some dangers in selecting a name, and briefly discusses legal aspects of names.


Brand sense: build powerful brands through touch, taste, smell, sight and sound     brand sense

by Martin Lindstrom                       

and Philip Kotler. 

According to the authors,

it’s not enough to present a product or service visually in an ad, distinctive brands need to deliver a full sensory experience.  You will find many examples and a new perspective on branding.




Brand Warfare, 10 Rules for Building the Killer Brand by David F. D’Alessandro.  The question of how to use a brand is addressed in a series of simple principles that brand-builders can use in any market.  The author cautions that many companies fail to recognize that a brand includes everything a company does, not just the information it wants to communicate to consumers.


eBrands:  Building an Internet Business at Breakneck Speed by Phil Carpenter is a thoughtful guide to creating truly durable brands in the electronic marketplace.  In-depth interviews with more than forty company executives and industry experts reveal successful strategies for building brand awareness. by Deborah Kania is an American Marketing Association publication that explains what makes a Web site powerful and how to develop an online branding strategy that fits seamlessly with your marketing plan. 

Why Johnny Can’t Brand; Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea by Bill Schley and Carl Nichols, Jr.  Why many good companies fail to differentiate their products from their competitors’ products is the question addressed by the author.  The surprising answers will be found in this book along with the prescription to fix the problem.   

Wordcraft:  the art of turning little words into big business by Alex Frankel.  Read an in-depth look at how companies name themselves and their products.  You also will learn about the world’s largest naming firm and professional namers, who are responsible for inventing words that eventually become part of our everyday language.






Following are some online resources for naming a business and product: 

Small Business Administration’s “Name Your Business” states that there is more to choosing a name than simply finding one that sounds good and that you like.  Thought must be given to state and local requirements and making sure you don’t infringe upon the rights of someone else’s business name.”  You’ll find links to an article on how the business structure affects business names, trademark FAQs, the Secretary of State offices, the federal trademark search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site, and also included is a brief paragraph on domain names. 

The World Intellectual Property Organization presents articles on why trademarks are relevant to the success of a small and medium size enterprise, how to create or select a trademark, and conducting trademark searches. 

At you will find articles on choosing the best name for a business, mistakes to avoid when naming a business, how to protect the name, and why a good business plan can help you name your company.

In “What’s in a Name?” at  Desktop Publishing, five small businesses explain the reasons behind their business names.  Also, there are links to tips and brainstorming help for naming a design business.


At  Small Business Information, Darrell Zahorsky discusses “The 10 Commandments of a Great Business Name.”


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a searchable database of pending and registered federal trademarks, information on filing a federal trademark, and online filing with instructions.


All About Trademarks by Gregory H. Guillot is dedicated to trademarks and trademark law.  Learn how trademarks are acquired, protected and used. Explore trademark links and links to related sites.


One Response to “What’s in a Name?”

  1. Great list of resources. Thanks.

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