So you’re already excited to start your business? You already had a great name in mind that will serve as your business name, trade name or brand name. Now you want to start promoting that name and register it with business regulatory agencies, such as the DTI for sole proprietorship and SEC for partnership and corporation. But wait! Before you register your trade name and start using it to promote your business, consider these 5 online branding tips first:
1. Google your business name to check if it’s unique.
Utilize search engines like Google to check if the name you have in mind is not yet used. Using Google search, type your business name (starting and ending with quotation marks) to check if there are already companies or businesses who are using your proposed trade name. If the search engine displays a lot of results, then it means your name isn’t unique. Now you have to think for another name until you get a name that will have a zero or few search results.
Example of a trade name that’s already used by businesses worldwide.
2. Check if your domain name is still available.
Today, having a website is already a must for every business to promote their products and reach their customers online. There’s a lot of business owners who did not consider their domain name (e.g. www.yourcompanyname.com) and website when they chose their business name, and it’s already too late when they realized that the domain name associated with their trade name was already registered by other people or entities. To avoid this scenario, choose a name that is still available for registration with a domain registrar. You can use a dot.COM domain name or dot.PH.
You can search at Namecheap.com if your desired name is still available for top level domain extensions like .COM, .NET or .ORG.
Or you can search at www.dot.ph if your desired name is still available for dot.PH domain name extensions.
The good dotCOM names are usually already taken or registered by other users, but still available for dotPH registration. That’s why most Philippine companies are choosing dotPH domain extensions for their company’s domain name. The advantage of using dotPH domain names is that it’s particularly targeted to the Philippine audience. But if you want to be global, a dotCOM domain name might be better since Google automatically assign or geo-target the dotPH domain extension to Philippine search users.
3. Check if your social media username is still available.
Aside from having a website for your business, you will also probably utilizing social media pages, like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Having a branded social media username can give your business a distinctive name or identity that will be recognized easily by your customers. For example, Starbucks got their username right on Facebook and Twitter.
Starbucks’ Facebook Page username is www.facebook.com/Starbucks
Starbucks Twitter username is @Starbucks
Now you may want to try to create accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to check if your proposed business or brand name’s username is still available for creation.
4. Check your business name online via SEC iRegister.
This is if you’re registering a partnership or corporation. If you’re registering a sole proprietorship business, you may jump to #5. However, you may also consider this if you’re planning to incorporate your proprietorship business in the future.
Using SEC iRegister to verify if your business name will be approved for registration is free. You just need to sign up for a free account to log in and use the facility. Once you have your login details, you can sign in and follow the simple steps and instructions to verify your business name.
Below is a screen shot from the facility when I verified the name “Purple Rooster, Inc”.
The Purple Rooster name did not pass because there are already registered names that may be similar to it.
Now, it’s your turn. Try to verify your business name if it will pass for registration. SEC also stated that “the fact that your name passed in their Facility doesn’t mean it is already approved”. Thus, you may still need to verify it at the SEC office for confirmation before you register your corporation or partnership.
5. Check similar business names online at DTI BNRS.
If you’re starting a sole proprietorship, you can use DTI BNRS – Business Name (BN) Registration System to search for business names that are already registered with the agency. The BNRS displays the first 1,000 records of business names based on the keywords you enter. So if you want to search similar trade names that are already registered to make sure that your business name is unique, you can try it by visiting the DTI BNRS website.
Below is a screenshot of the system when I tried to search for the name “Purple Rooster” – it shows no matching records.
Then I also tried to search for the keyword “Purple” to check similar businesses that used the word “Purple” as part of their trade names. It shows hundreds of records.
From here, I can decide if I still want to use the “Purple Rooster” name or replace it with another name to make sure that my trade name will be unique and brandable.
When you register with the DTI, they will usually ask 3 proposed names. Normally, the name that is approved is the one which is the most specific or the least generic. In other words, they will more likely approve the business name “Purple Rooster Marketing Services” rather than “Purple Rooster”.
Having the right business name that will be brandable, promotable and registrable should be a vital part of your business plan. I have already noticed some entrepreneurs who have already started marketing and promoting their business or brand name without registering it first. They have already established a website, build their social media pages, and earn a lot of followers. But when they register their business name, it wasn’t approved. Now they have to find and use another business name again and repeat their promotional efforts, which can be a waste of time and money.
I’ve also encountered many business owners whose exact match domain names of their company names are already registered by other people or entities. Now they’re just using alternative domain names rather than the domain names that their customers can recognize them well.
To avoid those things from happening, you have to strategically plan the name, brand or identity you’ll be using for your business.