Why Fuss over a Business Name?
What could you say identifies a business more to it’s customers than its name? Have a think about it. Tough one huh..!
Is it Branding? Yes this is integral to business identity! But it goes without saying that if your business name were to change then your brand would certainly alter with it (would the Golden Arches of McDonalds look right if their business name changed to Harolds?).
What about Product Offering/Services? You’re right, these will stick in the minds of your customers and be the reason why they bring their business back to you, time after time. But a service or product isn’t what your customers think about when they realise they need to book a check-up for their car, that they’d like a coffee or that they require your expert hemming services. No – what they’ll be thinking when this need arises is: ‘I should get over to XYZ because I need another widget!’ Your patrons won’t necessarily recall your product or service, but they will remember that ‘Sammy’s Subs’ make the best sandwiches in town.
Could it be the People running the business? We’d all agree that a business is nothing without it’s people! It’s the efforts of owners, managers and staff that engages with customers and ensures repeat purchases. But despite knowing all of this, if we were recommending said business to our friends and family we would still say to them ‘go to <insert business name>! <Friendly staff member> was really helpful and will definitely sort you out!’. We purchase from the business identity not the people within the business who are responsible for it’s character.
There are many, many factors contributing to the perceived character of your business. Without doubt, your business name will be the first thing customers will associate with whatever makes you special. It’s a lot like an ice berg – your business name is the tip of the iceberg that everyone will come to know and recognize. If the tip of the iceberg were to suddenly change, whatever lies beneath the water (the people, products, services of the business) could become irrelevant and insignificant in the mind of the customer.
So what should I do to protect my Business Name?
While registering a business name with ASIC is an important part of setting up and running your business, many people are surprised to learn registration doesn’t provide exclusive ownership of your business name.
Registering a business name is no more than a legal obligation if you plan to carry on business or trade in Australia using a name other than your own.
So, remember that registering a business name doesn’t mean you own it, or that you are preventing other people from being able to register and use similar names.
Usually, the only way to get exclusive use of a particular business name is to register it as a trade mark. You can find more information about what’s involved – and search for existing trade marks at no cost – by visiting IP Australia.
If you’re concerned that your business name isn’t protected, please contact Tim Garth, the author of this article. You’ll find him at his email address – email@example.com, or just call the CATS office on (02) 4353 5370 and ask for Tim.