For many entrepreneurs, coming up with the right business name can be hard. After all, you want it to be catchy and tell people what your business is about. You might want some eye catching creative logo to go with it too. You also want to be able to link that business name and logo with the internet, i.e., domain names, social media, etc. Equally important is making sure all of these creative things (name, logo, etc.) are unique to you and your company, otherwise you could face intellectual property challenges down the road. No one wants to make that costly mistake! Perhaps you even engage an attorney to help ensure that all of these things are set up right and check out just to be sure. When all of these things are on track you might feel like you have got the green light and you are off to the races! Or are you?
One of the pitfalls I see in business is people starting businesses with a GREAT business name only to later find out that somewhere someone else has (or had) a same or similar business name with a bunch of negative online articles or reviews about it! As many of us are aware, stuff on the internet stays around for a long time…as in forever in some cases. Basically, even if the business has long since been done and gone, those articles and reviews may still be around…possibly at the top of search engine listings. Even worse, people who don’t pay that close of attention, perhaps prospective customers, might think that the old business name (and crummy article or review) that had nothing to do with you are one in the same with your business! This is true even if you have different locations, different logos, and do totally different types of business! Yes, a few unfortunate issues with our society (generally, not all) are: 1) people don’t typically read (they skim at best); and 2) people sometimes think everything on the internet is the truth without second guessing the information or where it came from! Yikes! Talk about a bad combination and potential for an online reputation nightmare for your new business – especially if your prospective customer doesn’t play that close of attention to details…like the fact that you aren’t that other business with the old articles, etc! To top it off, solutions aren’t as easy as writing the websites that are hosting the articles/reviews and asking them to take them off. In most cases, that won’t work and, generally speaking, they don’t have to.
PRO TIP: When doing your due diligence for your business name, in additional to all of the intellectual property considerations, you should also consider running searches on top search engines like Google to see what, if any, negative information you can find on the internet using the name of your company and names closely related to your company, e.g. Frosty Ice Cream vs. Frostys Ice Cream, etc. Going in with your eyes wide open as to what problems are present, if any, will help you determine if you want to consider other business names OR maybe at least consider some social media campaigns or other options that will help educate and differentiate you from the other(s).
If you not sure how to go about these kinds of searches, you are encouraged to speak with a Business Attorney in your area who can assist you or perhaps a trusted Reputation Management consultant (though do your research before you hire anyone). Anette Beebe is the managing member of Beebe Law, PLLC which is an Arizona based law firm representing clients in the state of Arizona.