Naming your business, and deciding on the perfect name is one of the most difficult things to accomplish. Far more nerve racking than deciding on your location or price strategy because it’s permanent…at least it should be. On top of that, your name must be unique, and stand out amongst your competition.

Now you have your “perfect name” and can’t wait to tell the world — but wait, is your name taken or trademarked? Is someone else using the URL you so desire? These are all things you must consider when choosing your name in order to save yourself tears later when you are forced to change your name because of legal issues.

The good news is there are a few resources where you can do a lot of the up-front research. Straydog Marketing + Design can assist you in developing and searching your brand name, additionally if you wish to incorporate your company you should seek the advise of a lawyer as well. There are numerous lawyers that specialize in trademarking because once you’ve established a potential brand name, you’ll want to protect it.

You may consider seeking advise when choosing your brand name, as there are a lot of rules at play, and they’re not always crystal clear.

Canadabusiness. ca, has many resources on what’s allowed, what isn’t, what might get you in trouble and where you can go to search your brand name ideas. The government has also put together a “Name Granting Compendium,” which is a collection of all the rules in a single document.

The Government Naming Rules in 4 principles:

Your name must be distinctive
Your name must not cause confusion with any existing name or trademark
Your name must include a legal element
Your name must avoid certain words.

I suggest a bit of common sense is most of what you need to stay out of trouble.

Branding is all about being distinctive, and One of the easiest is to come up with a name that describes exactly what you do. For example, a business called “Roberto’s Granville St. Italian Cuisine,” …it certainly won’t be imaginative. But you don’t want to be too generic as you could risk getting into trouble with something like, “Italian Cuisine.”

At Straydog we recommend a more extensive list of
Brand Naming Attributes

Engages your audience
Supports your positioning
Establishes your business’ personality
Aids recall of your product or service

To avoid existing trademarks, we recommend using NUANS Name Search System. This search compares your name with a federal database of trademarks, and existing federal and provincial company names, excluding Quebec.

This NUANS search is a requirement if you wish to incorporate and the registry office won’t accept your forms unless you also submit results of a NUANS search. NUANS searches can be done online, but you should be aware that the NUANS is a federal search from Industry Canada, which is only going to compare your name with the federal list.

We advise using a third-party search provider who can help you broaden your search to include provincial databases or to limit your search to the province or territory in whish you want to incorporate.

Every small business person considers whether or not to incorporate his or her business at some point, and whether to add; Incorporated, Limited, Corporation, or any of the acronyms for those: Ltd., Inc. or Corp. These titles are important because they tell the world that your business is a distinct legal entity.

When choosing your name you may decide that you don’t see a need to be an incorporated so there is no need to do a name search, however, a common scenario is for small businesses to start out as sole proprietorships or partnerships and become incorporated at some later date when the business has grown, meaning you may have to change your name at that point if it is legally taken — giving up all the brand equity you built up over the years!

Brand Naming F.A.Q

What is a Trademark?

A trademark (sometimes called simply a “mark”) is any word, phrase, design, or symbol used to market a product or service. Technically, a mark used to market a service, rather than a product, is called a service mark, though the term “trademark” is commonly used for both types of marks because they refer to the same group of legal protections. Learn more on Trademarks

What is a business’ Legal Name?

The legal name of a business is the official name of the person or entity that owns a business. If you are the only owner of your business, then its legal name is simply your full name. Your business’s legal name will be required on all government forms and applications, and is particularly important to use on your application for a federal employer identification number.

How do I get a NUANS Report?

To get a NUANS report, you have the option of ordering your own NUANS report in real-time from the NUANS Real-Time System for federal incorporations, or, with the assistance of a NUANS Registered Member of your choice, to incorporate federally and to incorporate in other jurisdictions.