Choosing a business name is a vital part of your business. It’s the first thing that a potential customer or client notices about you and it can really make or break you.  It can be a really tough process coming up with an original name that reflects your brand and its values. Here’s a quick guide on 5 ways you can choose a trademark name. These categories are applicable to the US only, the EU has a different process.

Fanciful trademarks

Fanciful trademarks are made-up words which are invented to be used as a trademark name.

Take Polaroid and Kodak for example. Both of these words were meaningless before their marketing teams gave meaning to them. Now the whole world knows that Polaroid and Kodak are all about photography.

Another example is Starbucks. Before the global coffee giant became what it is today, the word ‘Starbucks’ had no meaning. The founders wanted a distinctive name that begun with ‘st’ because they thought it would make a distinctive and strong name. They came up with ‘Starbo’ which reminded them of the Moby Dick character ‘Starbuck’ and the rest is history.

The great thing about fanciful trademarks is that they are the strongest kind of trademark. The fact that your word was invented to be used as a trademark, means that if trademark infringement ever does occur, you’ll have the upper hand in the case.


Arbitrary trademarks

Arbitrary trademarks are words that have a real, common meaning but they are completely unrelated to the product or service.

A good example of this is Apple. We all know that ‘apple’ is a fruit but the technology giant Apple has cleverly created excellent branding to the word that when we hear the word ‘apple’ we immediately associate it with iPhones and iPads.

Arbitrary trademarks are the second best kind of trademarks to go for after fanciful trademarks.


Suggestive trademarks

Suggestive trademarks are named after a characteristic of the product or service.

A good example of this is the car manufacturer, Jaguar. It works well because when you think of the word ‘jaguar’, the animal springs to mind and you think about its speed and sleek body, much like the car manufacturer’s branded message.

These would be the third best option when opting for a trademark.


Descriptive trademarks

Descriptive trademarks are a description of the product or service.

A good example of this is Sharp TVs. The word ‘sharp’ implies clarity and sharp resolution. This is a good way to get across a branded message to a potential customer very quickly.

However descriptive trademarks are not the best kind of trademarks to go for as many people try to register them.


Generic trademarks

Generic trademarks cannot be protected as they are simply a generic description of the product or service.

For example, you wouldn’t be able to trademark the words ‘smartphone’ or ‘television’ or ‘email’ for your business name as they are generic words used by people everyday.

If you were heading down this route for your trademark name, it is best to go back to the drawing board and do more brainstorming as you need a more distinctive trademark.


Once you’ve chosen which route you will take, all you need to do is protect it with a trademark. These categories only apply to the US. If you want to get a trademark elsewhere, you can also find out more about the registration process in the United Kingdom or Europe.