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After you figure out your branding, you need to pick a company name that evokes that brand. Picking a good company name at the outset will maximize the value of your company name and will prevent a whole host of problems. Selecting and clearing good company names can be a frustrating and time consuming process, but the rewards for selecting a great name are well worth the effort. The good news is, once you get it figured out the process is the same for any trademark, not just company names.

The more distinctive a trademark is, the more valuable it is. The best trademarks are either completely made up words like Xerox or Kleenex or words that have nothing to do with what you are selling like Google and Apple. It’s counter-intuitive, but the more descriptive or related your trademark is to the products, the weaker it is. You want people to only think of you when they hear those words. The meaning shouldn’t come from the words themselves, but from the meaning your business gives it. Exxon has one meaning, and that’s the company. There is no context in which you can say Exxon and not be referring to them. Apple is slightly weaker because there are contexts in which you could be referring to something else (like, you know, apples). But in its field, Apple means one thing, and that’s the company.

The other thing to keep in mind is that you are naming your brand, not your product or service. You want your name to evoke what it’s like to deal with you, not a feature of the product. Instead of using words that directly describe your services, a good exercise is to try thinking of things that are totally unrelated, but have the qualities of your business. Just keep in mind that the most obvious things and common words are most likely already taken.

Our firm name is an example. Our name has an element of what we want it to be like working with us (trust) and an object that has qualities we would like to evoke, but has nothing to do with our business (tree). It’s also from a line in the movie “Old School”, so it’s a bit of an inside joke that some people get. That helps convey the playfulness and informality of our brand. It also has alliteration which is always nice. And neither word directly relates to or describes legal services.

Once you get a list of five or so powerful trademarks you really like, it’s time to find out which ones are available by performing a trademark search.