Careful naming of your business is important. The name should tell a story about your business. And reflect its uniqueness.
It is a major marketing tool, so spending some time in the early stages of business creation on the name is time well spent. The business name, and your representation of it, forms the foundation for your business cards, web design and other marketing materials.
I have to admit, I started out with a not terribly creative name. The scientist in me came up with ‘Tech Business Savvy’ which is straight-forward, a good description of what the business has to offer, but lacked pizzaz. Googling this title turned up TekSavvy, which is an Ontario-based business that provides internet services and related products. One of the challenges of advising technology-based businesses is that it’s often mistaken for services to advise on the use of technology in business. A subtle but significant difference. I later noticed many TekSavvy posters in the local subway system and was glad I abandoned Tech Business Savvy early in my name quest. In the US trademark database, I found a ‘Tech Savvy Business’ which associated with consulting services on e commerce and that would have been another good reason to steer clear of it.
The next name I considered was ‘The Eyes of Janus’. Janus was a Roman God of beginnings and transitions. He had a face on each side of his head, so as to be able to see both where something has come from and is going. I’ve always liked the image of Janus to represent technology development that started out in an academic environment and transitioned into a venture in the business world. Searching for The Eyes of Janus on google and the Canadian trademark database looked clear. In the US trademark database, there were a number of matches, but most related to investment products, so things were still looking good, until I found the trademarked ‘Janus Patents’ that offered services related to advice on commercializing intellectual property. That was too close to the same kind of business.
Let me talk a little bit here about trademarks (which may consist of the name or a drawing/symbol that incorporates the name or both). First, they are specific to jurisdiction and also to the wares (products and services) offered. Different owners may hold the same mark in Canada versus the US or other countries. However, the internet has made the jurisdictional distinction hard to keep. Web searches can lead to confusion of two businesses thousands of kilometres apart. Provided the wares are distinct, two separate owners may hold a trademark with the same name for different products (for example Spider power tools vs. Spider soft drinks). The key question that is asked when there is a trademark infringement challenge is whether there is a danger of confusion of the two products or companies.
Discarding The Eyes of Janus, the search continued for a name that clearly represented the services offered by the business in a fun way. What is the difference I offer to those seeking advisory services on developing their tech-based business? The Intuitive Edge. That was it – a name that represented the cumulative experience and knowledge I gathered through decades in various organization, all of which are important in tech-business development. But the name, The Intuitive Edge, didn’t last very long. This name is already associated with a number of products related to spiritual health.
Name aside, I was sure this was the right message about my services. One of my colleagues always referred to this sort of business intuition, used to direct factual inquiries, as his ‘spidey sense’. This expression originated from a certain superhero’s ability to sense when things are going to happen and has come to be a recognized slang term that means intuition. Marvel comics of course have trademarks in both Canada and the US for wares related to Spiderman and his spidey sense, like movies, comic books, clothing, games, dolls and such things. But not for services advising technology based companies.
Now, a word about trademark infringement. It is the right of a trademark holder to prevent others from using their trademark. Courts will also uphold the use of anything similar that might be confused with the registered trademark. Thus, if you use a name that a trademark holder takes issue with, you will have to defend your rights to use the name. You might use the same name and never be approached by the registered holder. Or then again you might. There is a business decision to be made. How much risk are you willing to take on, which can be balanced by how much value there is in the desired name.
I decided that I could be creative enough to find another name and left the spidey sense behind. I still liked the word ‘Edge’ because it was what I wanted to give my clients. And since I got thinking about spiders, the spiders web is a good symbol for the knowledge I pull in from many different directions to help clients. Around the same time, I was looking through old papers and found an image I wanted to associate with the business. It’s a chart recording on a grid background (that looks spider web-like) with a red tracing that spikes up at the edge. Thus, ‘The Spiders Edge’ was created. But I wasn’t done. Now I needed to do the searches to see if it was available. Google was all about the latest Spiderman movie. The Canadian trademark database matched nothing to both spider and edge and nothing matching spider and business advisory services. In the US trademark database, spider and edge matched a few entries, but none had ‘edge’ in the mark/name itself. And spider wasn’t associate with any similar business services. For a final step, I check for the domain name, found it available, and snapped it up.
Having settled on a name, in order to do business under it, is necessary to register in Ontario if you are operating under a name different from your personal name (as in the one on your driver’s license). For a fee, NUANS, a service offered by the Canadian government, provides searches of registered business names in Canada, but I recommend doing the free searches first.
Moral of the story: For business names, be creative, represent yourself well, and make sure your idea doesn’t belong to someone else.