Brand Naming Process
Discover the importance of using an appropriate naming strategy when naming your company, businesses, trademarks or brands.
Before you choose a brand name
Naming your brand, company, business is potentially the most critical point in differentiating and positioning your brand from your competitors. It is essential to ensure the name of your brand follows your overall brand strategy before even considering proceeding with registering any legal entity, or trademark. It communicates what your products, brands, and services stand for, or at least what the company wants to project, it acts as a vehicle to produce a distinct, informative, and memorable brand.
To become truly distinctive, a company needs to invest its time, and view its marketing activities as a long-term cyclic process. Having a catchy name is also a great way to start.
While vernacular brands such as Lego, Panadol, Google, Tupperware are effectively titled after their function, very few brands can follow this method or even dream of gaining such success. Most companies or brands, simply struggle to create a name that is distinct, informative, and memorable.
Before naming your brand, you need to determine what is the purpose of your brand, what makes you different, what makes you sustainable or provides a competitive advantage.
You then need to test the name you have chosen extensively, it needs to make sense to employees, stakeholders, and external parties, specifically your prospective audience/consumer.
You then have to proceed with registering, and protecting your brand asset.
And then lastly… give it life through exposure, advertising, building brand communication channels, improving SEO and SEM, etc.
Is it better to hire a professional branding agency?
While it might sound biased, the answer is yes. But if you are confident your team is qualified and experienced in their ability to define and follow your predetermined brand strategy during the process of crafting your name, then you may indeed be able to develop a reasonable name on your own. Nevertheless, you may lack resources or simply don’t have the time to handle internal projects of this nature. While there are never any guarantees in life, hiring an external party such as a brand developing team, it should be expected that they can do it efficiently, and more importantly, objectively.
These are some factors to consider if you need to hire a branding agency:
- If you are investing in building a business, it makes sense to hire a branding agency that knows the business of branding, whereby they can place time into researching your market, competition, etc. to ensure your brand gains traction in the market. It’s like spending a hundred thousand dollars on plastic surgery, but you refuse to hire a professional doctor, or renowned surgeon, better to ask your cousin’s daughter who watched a lot of Nip/Tuck on tv to do it. All jokes aside, it makes sense to hire someone skilled if you are unsure of the process
- Your team is not exactly known for their creativity, efficiency, and or objectivity, you know your people best, are they really up to the task of creating an awesome, contemporary, relevant name for your company? Just as an example, family businesses often have to deal with the pressure of adding some form of family heritage into the naming process, while forgetting how consumers may perceive said brand. i.e., is the name irrelevant to the product, brand, and services associated, or perhaps it’s out of date, boring, cliché, and frankly just awful (usually as a result of having to stroke someone’s out of touch ego or overly emotional persuasion i.e., Grandpa used it to name his old business…. Way back in the 30s)
- Realizing your company doesn’t have the time to handle such activities
- Does your company have the resources and finances to hire externally?
- Does your company have the ability to develop a strategy to create and select an awesome name?
- Do you know what your brand needs to say, or accomplish?
- How does it work with your other brands, products, and or services?
- Should your name be expressive or informative, devised or invented, or use someone’s actual name?
- Does your team have a method to determine the best process of decision-making?
Does your name work?
- Does the name look or sound good? You might also want to check if the name means anything negative, both locally and internationally – Honda presented their ‘Fit’ vehicle in Europe using the title Fitta, which they later discovered meant female genitalia in Swedish
- Is it easy to pronounce or spell? You need to make it easy to say and spell, it also goes towards building strong retention, especially if you are targeting, how to say, illiterate audiences
- Is the name confusing? Confusion can lead to a loss in retention. If it takes too much effort in reading or trying to remember, consumers will of course forget or choose to ignore it
- Does the name reflect who you are, your brand’s ethos, values, ideals, vision, etc? Do you know who you are?
- Does someone already own the name and have they registered a domain name? Companies very often will find it difficult to register their brands online due to the fact there are simply billions of companies, and chances are, someone has already registered your desired name
- Is the name easy to translate to English and Mandarin, for local markets, you will want to appease certain audiences, so deciding on a name that can be easily translated is a must. As an example, the Tide detergent brand is known as Taizi, the Chinese characters mean “removes dirt”
- Does it apply to your brand’s personality?
- Does the name project a positive tone? How does the tone of the words used to make your brand’s name make people feel?
- Does it project feelings of power, tranquility, urgency, action…?
- Does it project the right mood or feel? Is your brand full of exuberance, or seriousness?
- Does it relate to your audience, have you properly considered your brand name in terms of positioning?
Some methods used
To determine your personality, you can try building an attribute spectrum, this helps to determine key character traits of your brand if you were to personify it.
You can create your spectrum lists, using elements such as:
- Need – Indulgence
- Expensive – Inexpensive
- Fun – Serious
This spectrum also goes towards assisting your design teams in coming up with relevant and associated creativity to suit your chosen personality.
The next phase would be to create an Identity Funnel, including elements like colors, textures, tone, imagery, etc. to help form the visual character of your visual brand identity.
Lastly, the process of choosing the right name will test your ability to break past the norms, to do what might not necessarily feel safe, by breaking the boundaries you are innovating, daring to differentiate yourself. Make sure however that it sticks to your brand essence, be authentic, but stay focused on delivering structure, consistency, and on your promise.
How Trademarks, Business names, Company names, and Domain names differ?
Put simply, a Trademark distinguishes and identifies a product or service found available on the market, along with enabling it to differentiate itself from other products and services. For example, a corporate logo design.
A business name is the title of a business, but it is not to be used to name products or services.
This name is considered the legal entity that owns said business
A legal entity that is recognized as the owner of said business may be:
- A singular person or what is commonly termed as a ‘Sole Trader’
- A collection of people, defined as being in Partnership with each other
- A company, with the ‘Pty Limited’ in its title
If a business plans on using its private name, a business name is typically not necessary.
You are usually allowed to register for a trademark and a business name using the same title, but keep in mind, their registrations are used for two different purposes:
- Trademark is to be used to brand a product and or service
- A business name is a title that identifies a business
As an example: Google
A company name is the title of a legal entity that applies ‘Pty Limited’ (or some variation) at the start or end of its name.
- This name is considered the legal entity that owns said business (This business may also have many products and services under its belt)
As an example of a legal company name: Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc.
A domain name represents an internet address of a specific website. And as such can be associated with and not limited to said business, products, and or services.
- A trademark differentiates and classifies a product or service
- A business name is the name of a business, but not products or services
- A company name is the title of a specific type of legal entity
- A domain name refers to a website address
The standard process of naming your company
The first step is to choose a company or business name.
Decide on a name that’s right for your business. Your company name is a major element of your identity, image, and brand. It should be:
- Easy to pronounce and spell
- Original and not similar to existing business names, company names, or trademarks
- Appropriate, professional, and not offensive
- Descriptive and functional (for example, marketing results) or new and quirky (for example, google)
Using your personal name
Of course, as an alternative, you can name your company under your name (for example, Jonny Bang Bang), but keep in mind, in Indonesia, all company names need to have PT precede the name, so it might look weird using your name.
In countries like Australia, if you decided to use your personal name as the name of your company, you are not required to register the name. But if you wanted to name your company ‘Jonny Bang Bang & Co’, then they would be required to register the name.
Rules and restrictions for naming your business in Indonesia
We will cover this in a bit more detail later on, but here are some standard rules one must follow when naming their company.
- You must use the Roman or Latin alphabet
- Must not combine numbers and letters that don’t form an actual word
- Must not use vulgar language or words that are against religion, morality, etc.
- Must not be similar to the name of any government institution or existing company
- Must not be deceptive and or irrelevant to the services your company provides
- Local companies need to use Bahasa
- Foreign companies are allowed to use English
- PT doesn’t count as a 3rd word
Check if your company name is available
You can try to do a preliminary check by viewing the wipo.int website.
Register your company name
Provide all essential materials and ensure it follows the legal rules and if you can, search and discover if the name is indeed available to save wasting time.
Trademark your name
Register all intellectual property relevant to your brand, protect your business name or idea, including trademarking your name and logo. Just registering your business name doesn’t give you fully automatic rights over the name.
Check out the section below concerning setting up a Trademark.
Legal Process – Company naming – in Indonesia
It should go without saying, naming a company that doesn’t support or appropriately represents your company, is not only illogical but is also likely to be detrimental. It will damage the longevity of your business and limit its ability to expand. So, it would behoove you to choose a name that supports and easily supports your business.
And this is why most companies tend to hire professional branding agencies like lia s. Associates to assist in the process of naming, be it for naming their organization, trademarks for brands, logos, products, etc.
Professional Branding agencies take the time to conduct a series of research activities to determine the most appropriate and relevant option in the choosing of a company name, they present their findings and alternatives to their prospective clientele before making any rash decisions, where all parties can then deliberate and consider how and what they want to name their business.
What’s more, when processing and company registration in Indonesia it’s stipulated that a company must provide a ‘good company name’. (Which could be difficult to argue due to its subjectivity, since they don’t quantify what ‘makes ‘a good name’).
So now that you have started on your way with dealing in the joyful aspects of creatively coming up with a cool name for your company, don’t delude yourself of the fact you will need to gear up and consider dealing with the often-confusing legal aspects of a registering your company name.
We won’t go into too much detail here, since this article is more to illustrate the difference between a company or corporate name, a brand name, or a trademark.
Each country follows its own methods, and their governing agencies differ, we will however briefly look into the requirement for setting up a company in Indonesia. Indonesian bureaucracy can be somewhat challenging, to say the least, and as such, it is recommended to employ an Intellectual Property Right Consultant (external advisor or agent as they say) to handle such matters.
Opening a new business to trade in products, brands, and services requires one to register a Corporate or Company name (PT, CV – with your SIUP (Surat Izin Usaha Perniagaan) permanent license for trading).
Some legal things to consider when registering a company business name:
- Choosing a business structure – Business type, opening hours, ongoing fillings, and bookkeeping
- Choose a unique company name – Rumor states that in Indonesia for foreign businesses, you need to have at least 3 different words in the name (regardless of the fact it doesn’t officially specify this on any official site – if it doesn’t have 3 words in the name, it is said by many sources that, you will get an automatic denial). You will also want to provide 3 alternatives if one of the names has already been taken to save the time of having to go through the process all over again
- You will then need to reserve your company name by first applying to the Directorate General of General Legal Administration, through their Legal Entity Information System which will then approve the name if the name is not in use
- Foreign companies can name their company using English
- Local Companies must use Indonesian (or Bahasa Indonesia) to name all business entities owned by Indonesian companies or individuals
- PT Perseroan Terbatas, (Limited Liability Company). PT must be added to all company names, be it foreign or local
- You must have a registered office – with a legal mailing address, which also involves its own set of legal processing which we won’t be going into
- Register your company to gain a business license – The process of getting a business license varies with each business type. You are required to apply for a certificate of business registration. Registration documents can be found at the Ministry of Trade
Applying for a business license
Again, we won’t go into the full details except to say you will need to do the following:
- Acquire a company Deed of Establishment (DOE)
- Apply for a SIUP (Surat Izin Usaha Perniagaan)
- Apply to gain a Business Registration Number
- Have your company registered with the taxation office
- Have a corporate bank account
Legal Process – Trademark or Brand naming
The process of creating a trademark or the name of a brand involves registering it through the Dirjen Hak Kekayaan Intelektual as a Brand. It also allows you to provide your supportive branding materials, such as selected logos and other mediums associated). Visit www.dgip.go.id to learn more about how you can get the registration ball rolling.
In general, Trademark registration is aimed at protecting names, words, numbers, letters, slogans, symbols, compositions, or a combination of all these elements as used to identify a business and to distinguish itself from other brands. Protecting a trademark is a long-term investment, one that should be considered if you intend to pursue a serious business, to avoid issues that might arise in the future, such as having to deal with litigation or some form of disruption that affects sales, and perceptions held by your consumer audience.
Having registered your trademark, you will be able allowed to present the ® and ™ symbol, which signifies that your brand is protected and enforceable by law. It also tells audiences and competitors that you take defending your trademark and its associated rights, seriously.
By going through the process of registering your trademark, this act grants you legal protection and sole rights to utilize your trademark concerning all products and services associated, within the country or territory you registered said trademark.
To submit your items for registration, you will need to visit the Directorate General of Intellectual Property Rights, Ministry of Law, and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia.
One thing to note, while Indonesia follows the Madrid Protocol along with 124 other nations, all trademarks are registered by a government of a country, and as such, will not automatically register your trademark with any other nation unless specified. Indonesia, for example, does not have the power to register a trademark that would apply in the United States, they must apply for one in that country, regardless of the fact they may both follow the Madrid protocol.
You could also apply to register your trademark directly with the world intellectual property organization following the Madrid protocol, but this will not guarantee that Indonesia will uphold it.
Benefits of registering your brand elements
Sadly, due to the reality of frequent occurrences of businesses conducting outright piracy in Indonesia, applying a registered trademark is a fairly logical step for the wise business.
Registering your trademark in Indonesia will provide owners with some of the following benefits:
- Being the first to file for a trademark, generally gives you priority rights to use the registered trademark
- Grants protection against other similar trademarks
- Discourages people from conducting piracy
- Legal backing if any trademark dispute or litigation
- Acts as a form of legitimacy and exclusive ownership of a registered Trademark
- Grants rights to use the ® and ™ symbol on goods and services associated
The procedure of Trademark Registration
- Fill the official Application
During application, provide any additional information or meaning your trademark, color, images, and translate your data into Bahasa if the trademark uses a different language
- Administrative Review
The Ministry of Law and Human Rights will decide if the application meets all requirements. You will be provided 2 months to successfully edit the application if you fail
Your Trademark will be published by the Ministry of Law and Human Rights on their website. If someone contests the trademark in question, the Applicant can counter the objection. If there is no response, the Applicant can continue with the next phase
If the Ministry of Law and Human Rights denies your registration, the Applicant can request another review and expect 3 months to gain status on whether or not the registration has been approved or not – If all goes well, the registrant can continue with the next phase
- Notification of success
The Ministry of Law and Human Rights will give notification if the registrant will receive their trademark certificate, or not
- Certificate of Registration The Trademark Certificate will be handed over by the Ministry of Law and Human Rights
A Trademark will be valid for 10 years to the date of receipt. The Trademark should be renewed 6 months before the expiry. Expect a fine, if you are late.
Be aware, for new registrants, the bureaucratic process can take 12-14 months of back and forth. So don’t hold your breath expecting it to be processed speedily.
- If it goes against the nation’s Ideology, Legislation, Morality, Religion, or Public Order
- Only describes the product and not the classification of the items
- Mislead the public about the classification of the product. Such as the quality, category, size, purpose, etc.
- I must not contain the name of protected plants for goods and services
- Is not unique
- Contains a common word, name, or place
Registration, you could also conduct your own check, visit wipo.int to search their global database using either text or image to crawl their multiple national and international sources.
Ensure your brand name has a purpose and that it aligns with your overall brand strategy and that it positions itself to the right audience, this process of decision-making should be based on the results defined by conducting brand research. You will also want to ensure the name fits, where it doesn’t imply and cultural biases or produce any misunderstandings, avoid creating negative brand perceptions.
Be sure your brand can be applied to the digital realm. It is often one of the most difficult things to obtain. Be sure to register the name and protect it. Don’t let the name registration lapse.
After all is said and done be sure to check the legal implications of your brand, be sure to protect your primary brand asset, due to the significant financial value associated. Register the name, and do everything your company can do to protect it.
While most businesses understand that naming is important, they realize it is just one aspect of branding, whereas, to build a fully successful brand, they must follow an all-encompassing, cohesive and aligned branding strategy for all matters involving how the company wishes to project itself onto the market. Be that as it may, it must be reminded that the brand name you decide on will be the face of your company and or your products, so it is vital to don’t get it wrong.
For more information on how lia s. Associates | Branding and Design agency in Surabaya can help your company in developing your company, business or product brand names, please contact us to arrange a meeting.
If you want to learn more about our 5 steps to creating successful brands, please take a look at our recent articles on the matter – Brand Research, Brand Architecture, Brand Identity, Brand Communication, Brand Experience.
Written by Michael Jordon
22 Sept 2021