Choosing a brand for your business can be a tough exercise!  You want something that conveys your brand values to the world.  But at the same time, it needs to be something that helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace.  You also need to make sure that it is not being used by anybody else, or that your chosen brand does not have unfortunate connotations in other languages when you trade in multiple different countries.

The first fundamental task is to choose something that is distinctive, as opposed to being descriptive.  This means that customers can easily identify the relevant goods or services that you offer with you and you alone.  Having a distinctive brand also means it may be possible to register your trade mark, which can bring stronger protection and make it easier to enforce your rights.

We often come across an attitude that the brand has to say what you do.  But when you think about it, many powerful brands are words that are made up or which do not have a specific meaning for the products – think of brands like PEPSI or NIKE.  If you choose a descriptive term (like the “BEST KEBAB” shop you can see here), then you will not actually create a memorable impression on your customers and you will also struggle to obtain registrations and to prevent others from using the same brand.

Instead, to solve this problem you may want to choose a word that is either made up entirely, or that alludes to your brand values rather that stating them directly.  As an example which is close to home for us, the word “scintilla” literally means a small amount of something, but the brand SCINTILLA alludes to the “scintilla of invention”, being the small spark of creativity that you get at the start of a great idea – plus, the word literally means “spark” in Italian (and the original Latin).

However, even if you follow this route, it is important to avoid words that are too common – the chances are that others may have followed the same path before you.

It is also possible in some cases to use a surname or a place name, though these come with some important caveats – it is hard to register a common surname, or to register a place name for goods or services for which that place already has a reputation.

Once you have a distinctive brand in mind, it is important to check that it is not already in use by other parties.  You can carry out a “clearance search” in each country where you trade.  It is quite straightforward to check for existing registrations that you may be infringing, but you can also check for existing use of your brand to see if this would represent any competition or other prior rights that would prevent you obtaining your own registration.

We see many cases of brands being suggested by creative agencies that end up being unavailable to use because they are already registered by somebody else.  It is possible to carry out basic “sanity check” searches quite quickly to spot obvious problems, and then to carry out more formal searches for the top candidate brands.

Furthermore, it is also worth checking that the relevant domain names are available.  There are various fall back positions available (such as using use a specific country’s two letter top level domain, using one of the more recently expanded list of generic top level domains, or using a formulation like WE ARE BRAND_X), but being able to use the .com domain is still powerful.


At Scintilla, we help innovative companies get a grip on their intellectual property. Our unique commercial approach combines registration of patents and trade marks with strategic input so that IP can be a springboard for business growth. If you would like to discuss your IP needs, do contact us or book a free initial consultation!


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