Brand Search: 5 Steps Before using a Brand Name

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Brand Search: 5 Steps Before using a Brand Name

A good brand is crucial to your success. With 81% of common words already registered as trademarks, finding a unique and available brand name for your business can be a challenge.

Much of your potential success hinges on the choices that you make at the early stages of your business. Your brand becomes the store of value of all the value and goodwill that you generate from your marketing and servicing activities. It becomes the most valuable assets of a business – GOOGLE and APPLE are each estimated to be worth over $100 billion, and COKE is the second most well-known word in the world after “hello”.

To ensure the success of your business, follow these steps when brainstorming and searching for your brand name:

  1. Brainstorm names: Make it easy to pronounce, memorable, and distinctive.

    Good options are:

    – Made-up words like KODAK
    – Arbitrary words like APPLE (for computers)
    – Suggestive words like JAGUAR (for cars suggesting speed and elegance)
    – Combination words (like AIRBUS)

    Avoid descriptive brands – although they provide some early marketing benefits, a unique and distinctive name is better as your business grows.

    Instead, consider a semi-descriptive hybrid with a distinctive beginning and a descriptive ending, and then drop the descriptive element over time. Many successful brands have used this strategy, such as APPLE COMPUTERS becoming APPLE, and INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES becoming IBM, and BOEING AIRCRAFT COMPANY becoming BOEING.

  2. Search for your chosen brand name on Google and social media: This will help you to see if the name is already in use in your area, and if there are any similar brand names that could cause confusion for consumers.

    Remember that trade marks are jurisdiction-specific, so if you are only looking to trade within South Africa, trade marks from other countries should not be a problem unless they are well-known to South African consumers.

    For South African brands, select ‘South Africa’ as the region in your advanced search setting and/or including ‘’ as a search term. If you want to expand to other countries, have a look in these too.

    It is also a good idea to check platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to see if there are any similar brands marketed in South Africa for related goods or services.

  3. Search the Trademark Register. A conflicting brand might not be in use (and not appear on Google) but still protected for up to seven (7) years. You need to search the Register to locate these.

    In South Africa you can use our free search tool – followed by a professional search to confirm.

    Internationally, check out the free TmView search for various countries. Contact us if you require assistance.

    Search for similar looking, sounding (eg. BLACK vs BLAQUE) and meaning marks (eg. BLACK vs SWART). A similar meaning or sounding mark could block yours even if it looks different.

    Trademarks are grouped into 45 different classes of goods and services. Also search in related classes because these are not strict categories. For example, sunglasses and downloadable software both fall in class 9, but they are not necessarily related. On the other hand, clothing in class 25, handbags and leather belts in class 18, and cosmetics in class 3 may be considered related.

  4. Search for available domain names: You can search for available .com and domain names to see if your chosen brand name is available for use as a website address.

    Having a professional and memorable domain name for your website can increase your visibility, improve your SEO rankings. Using a domain name that includes your brand (e.g. “”) can also make your emails appear more trustworthy and professional to clients. It is ideal to obtain a “.com” and/or “” (in South Africa) domain name for your brand, and potentially other extensions common in your industry.

    If yourbrand.domain is not available and owned by someone in your industry, then you could be infringing an existing trademark and you may have to revisit your brand choice.

    If not, try registering the domain descriptive wording tagged onto your brand.

  5. Search for similar company names: Also consider searching for similar company names.

    You can search for company names here.

    REMEMBER: A registered Company Name does NOT provide any exclusive rights. You need a trademark to ensure exclusivity.

    A similar company name is only a problem if it trades in related goods or services.

    Unfortunately, the Company Register does not provide information what goods or services they market (unless descriptive wording in the name provides some hints). To find this information, you will need to conduct a Google and trade mark search.

We do the above professionally in our marketplace plus trade mark search for R5990. It covers company names, domain names, internet use, online platforms and other listings. Alternatively, we highly recommend at least getting a full trademark search (for R2990) to confirm your brand is available. Check out all of your search options (starting at R990) here.

Once decided, secure your domain names and register your brand as a trademark to protect it, secure investors, stamp ownership on your idea, and prevent others from stealing it.

By following these steps and securing your brand name early on, you maximise the potential value of your business idea and give yourself the best chance of success.


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