Trade names: how to choose the best one for your startup

Choosing a fitting and catchy name is a crucial step in starting a new business. The very first impression that you will make on your potential customers will largely depend on it. Therefore, be aware; the naming process requires commitment, a great attention to detail, and even some market research!

First rule: there is no golden rule

A successful name must tell a story. It has to send a clear message not only about the kinds of products or services that you want to deliver, but also about the values that your business intends to embody – innovation, reliability, etc. Thus, since the possibilities are virtually endless, it comes down to identifying what matters most for you.

Mistakes you must absolutely avoid

Although there is no single golden rule that you can follow, there is definitely a list of mistakes that you must absolutely avoid:

  • You are only allowed to use the @, &, and + symbols, so none of the other ones such as ()?*#/ are allowed to be part of your trade name.
  • Do not choose a name that is difficult to remember: how can a name become popular if it is too long, hard to read, or even harder to spell?

The latter point is particularly important. It would be terrible to find out too late that your startup name has an inappropriate or even vulgar meaning in Chinese, Spanish or any other language that you (eventually) want to do business in. Do not underestimate this problem. In 2011 Nokia had troubles in Spain because of the name of their new product, “Lumia,” for in the local language it sounds like the word for “prostitute.” So, nip such problems in the bud and do some research. Take into consideration that the internet offers very useful tools such as http://wordsafety.com/ to verify whether a word has an inappropriate meaning in other languages.

Important things you must do

Above all, you must avoid legal problems. You cannot use trade names already used by others, and you have to check that your startup name does not strongly resemble other names already registered as intellectual property. Again, it comes down to doing your research diligently.

Subsequently, enter the name you have chosen in one of the main search engines (Google, DuckDuckGo, etc.) and carefully analyse the results. Also, for the Netherlands you can consult the similarity tool of EUIPO to check whether the name you like is already registered or you can use this webpage to verify if a business activity with your preferred name already exist.

Collect Feedback

As you can see, choosing a good name for your business is a complex process. Do not hesitate to ask people for suggestions and feedback or to consult with a specialist. If you are a non-EU citizen and are thinking about to start or move your business to the Netherlands, make sure to involve your facilitator in this delicate stage.

An important piece of advice

So… you want to start a business in the Netherlands and you have already found a fantastic name, which means that you are pretty sure that it is the perfect name and that you have verified that it does not entail any legal problems. Well, register it as an internet domain with SIDN right away then and proceed with the registration of your trade name with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK) only after you have succeeded in this. Having an internet domain is fundamental to starting any new business and it would be a pity to find out too late that a domain with the name of your startup already exists and it is thus not available to you anymore…