Protect Your Brand
To help you safeguard your company’s name, we asked business leaders and entrepreneurs for their best suggestions. From purchasing all domain extensions to setting up all social media accounts immediately, there are several ideas that may help you protect your organization’s name.
Here are 11 steps to protecting your business name:
- Create a Corporate Entity
- Make Your Branding Memorable
- Register a Unique Domain Name
- Trademark Your Name and Logo
- Purchase All Domain Extensions
- Register Your Doing Business As Name
- Set Up Your Social Accounts Immediately
- Don't Hesitate to Seek Help From Legal Experts
- Familiarize Employees With Security Protocol
- Establish Online Communities
- Track Your Business Information
Create a Corporate Entity
Incorporate yourself under the laws of whichever state you’re based in. Creating a corporate entity to represent your business can provide you protection from copycats in your home state or competitors from other states. You don’t have to do this to conduct business, but it can provide you peace of mind. Anyone who tries to do or establish a business under the same name will run into a big legal obstacle, ensuring that your business’s name is protected.
- Carey Wilbur, Charter Capital
Make Your Branding Memorable
No matter how good the services are that you provide if your business name isn’t solidly associated with them and you, your business stands the chance of being denied recognition and future profits. Don’t let anyone take the credit for what you’ve built up.
One way we protect our business name is by thoroughly branding our rental RVs and continuing the theme throughout other opportune platforms, such as our website. When people think of our company, we hope our branded RV rentals come to mind. If a competitor were to attempt using a similar name and strategy, our documented branding could help in a legal dispute.
- Randall Smalley, Cruise America
Register a Unique Domain Name
So much business is done online these days, and it’s all too easy for people to set up a website that looks like yours in almost every way, stealing customers or providing similar yet subpar products.
If you register a unique domain name that can be associated with your business, there will be no mistaking that your website represents your company. This won’t necessarily stop others from piggybacking on your name, but it can prevent would-be customers from going to the wrong site or getting the wrong idea about your business.
- Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional
Trademark Your Name and Logo
The easiest and best way to protect your business’s name is by trademarking it and any logos or slogans you use, which we are glad to have done for our independent life insurance agency. With a specialization in helping marijuana users get approved for life insurance, we want to protect our hard work. You don’t want anyone else to piggyback on your success, or even worse, use your name to market similar services of lesser quality.
A trademark is an easy, long-term way to build up and protect your reputation. There will be some upfront costs to registering a trademark, but you will reap the benefits of doing so for many years to come.
- Chris Abrams, Marcan Insurance
Purchase All Domain Extensions
If you're serious about protecting your brand, consider purchasing the .net, .org, .io, and common misspellings of your company name on a .com domain extension. These domain name purchases will protect your business name from competitors and domain name resellers.
In addition, setting up a 301 redirect to your correct domain can help capture direct traffic from people who input the misspelled .com into their browser. For new startups, purchase the domain names for one year on auto-renew. For established companies, consider purchasing in two to five-year increments for discounted pricing.
- Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
Register Your Doing-Business-As Name
Entrepreneurs should register their businesses doing-business-as a name to protect their identity. After registering as an LLC with your state, it's essential to register your fictitious business name if you want to conduct business under a name other than the legal name.
Doing-business-as names (DBAs) enables you to create branding material under an easily recognizable business name. Registration also ensures compliance with state or county laws and prevents others from using the name as well.
- Annette Harris, Harris Financial Coaching
Set Up Your Social Accounts Immediately
One of the first things you should do is set up your business’s social media accounts on all the major platforms. Even if you have no plans of using them immediately, you’ll want to secure your desired account names and profiles so that you can own your online presence. Otherwise, someone else might snatch them before you can, which can confuse your customers and weaken your branding.
- Johannes Larsson, Financer.com
Don't Hesitate to Seek Help From Legal Experts
Hiring professional help is one step business owners should make to protect their business name.
Intellectual property lawyers can help you with the legal documents and requirements to protect your intellectual property, in this case, your business name. They also provide services when other bodies use the brand name illegally. It's also good business practice to seek assistance from them for due diligence.
For most business owners, the legal aspects of IP and business names are out of their professional capacity, so it's advisable to seek a legal expert's help.
- Lisa Richards, The Candida Diet
Familiarize Employees With Security Protocol
Every business should familiarize employees with security protocol. This could mean IT adding additional layers of security to data that is stored on company computers or training customer service reps to recognize when sensitive data may have been leaked. With proper security measures in place, businesses can protect their name.
- Evan Zhao, Revela Health
Establish Online Communities
One step businesses should do to protect their name is to establish communities centered around transparency and honesty online.
This approach bolsters the name of your business due to your audience's real-time and organic engagements online. When valuing honest services and clear communication lines are at the forefront of your brand, your consumers will always be there to spread good word-of-mouth on digital platforms and even offline.
- Arthur Iinuma, ISBX
Track Your Business Information
There are subscription services available from business information providers that offer basic reports for a business that wants to protect its company and brand names. This service provides you with weekly updates on related new company formations, name changes, and variations of your company name. This means you can keep a watchful eye on the name and reputation of your business.
- Amit Raj, The Links Guy
Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association, SCORE.org
Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.