The Devil is in the details. Good news! This means picking a trade name for your new business venture will involve a great deal of planning and detail oriented thinking about your launch plan, and the market you serve. This will only serve you in good stead down the line.
Take, for example, a company called “Designbook.” According to a recent article, Established Firms Fight Startups on Names, they are a fledging upstart who is seeking entry into the now crowded social networking market. In attempt to gain a nationwide monopoly on their name, Designbook filed an application to register it’s name with the federal government’s Patent and Trademark office.
Guess who opposed the application? Facebook. According to the networking giant, Designbook’s use of “book” in it’s name is confusingly similar to the “book” used in “Facebook.” Of course, if Designbook was a pen manufacturer, Facebook’s claim wouldn’t likely have merit.
However, as applied to the social networking market, “book” has gained a worldwide reputation as being associated with “Facebook.” So the mammoth’s argument about confusingly similar use has merit — in this instance. Imagine if the market became saturated with “Desginbook,” “Loobook,” “Cokebook,” “Gangabook,” “Pornbook,” and so on? Such uses give the impression that the companies are affiliated with Facebook (as in the case of “Designbook” or “Lookbook”). Otherwise, the tradenames dilute the “Facebook” name (as in the case of “Cokebook,” “Gangabook,” and “Pornbook.”). Unlike confusion, dilution doesn’t require that folks think one brand is affiliated with the other, but merely that that the new brand — i.e. “Cokebook” — makes the famous brand — “Facebook” — less unique.
That being said, assume “Pornbook” launched a website, not in the social networking realm, but as a new humorous online publication by evolutionary biologists like E.O. Wilson for the study of sexual practices among Rhesus monkeys, in addition to other non-human mammals, throughout history. In that case, Facebook would be hard pressed to bring a claim. “Book” is a generic word. Facebook doesn’t own it. So the question becomes, how do you, as a new venture backed company, pick a good name to enter into an otherwise crowded market?
Be original. While “Designbook” describes, in some ways, what the company does, the trade name “Nike” does not. If you didn’t know that “Nike” referred to the shoe company, you’d otherwise think it may apply to a Greek God for victory — it does. All this means is that a company like “Designbook” needs to pick a more original — “fanciful” — name that doesn’t describe, in anyway, what they do. They then can make a splash in the market — like Nike did after Mr. Jordan helped revamp the brand. (Remember those Spike Lee/Michael Jordan commercials?) In the end, an original name can actually help “Designbook” gain more market share instead of merely being a “me too” Facebook.
Only by respecting the Devil and his details will you arrive at a sustainable, attention grabbing, name.