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Advertising Rights Digest - Arm yourself with knowledge

Published on 12 May 2011

What Is in a Name? More than You Think
By Andries Botha
01 Sep 2010

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Business people ponder for days on end on an appropriate - and striking - name for their businesses. Unfortunately, they confuse two important concepts in the process: what is a trademark and the marketability of a name. This confusion often causes severe pain. Ask Business Connexion about this.

The obvious route for most businessmen is to define their business in the name they choose. A case in point is Business Connexion.

But this is exactly where many aspiring entrepreneurs falter. There is very little brand value in defining the product. Does Coca-Cola tell you it is a soft drink? Does Mercedes-Benz say it is a car? And Checkers is not indicative of a retail outlet. It seems that the less the name tells us about the business, the more potential there is in the brand value thereof.

On the other hand, there is Pick"n Pay that was named at a time when self-service was a relatively new boy on the block in retail.

However, there are other benefits related to having your name removed from the type of business you conduct. In a recent case before the ASA, Business Connexion complained about a Neotel advertisement which ran the line: "so, your business connection has been a little sluggish lately"�.

Business Connexion complained that it was disparaging advertising. ASA dismissed the complaint on the basis that the phrase utilised by Neotel were used in its ordinary sense and that it does not disparage Business Connexion.

But Business Connexion's problem is that everybody who reads the ad knows it disparages Business Connexion, but because the words are ambiguous and can be interpreted both ways, the company cannot prove it to be disparaging.

So, be careful out there - naming your business descriptively can open you up to abuse of your name by your competitors.

The problem is much more acute in online business. In naming your business you want to cash in on search engine activity. If somebody searches for something in your industry, you want the search engine to pick you up. Search engine optimisation, however, relieves you of this burden. Your brand will be better remembered if it pops up in the search and is totally different from the category the internet reader is searching.

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