Before settling on a new brand name ensure you’re able to secure the key online properties that will be associated with it, namely:
Page 1 Search Results
Type the brand name you’re considering into Google (or your favourite search engine) and analyse the page 1 results. Are there exact or similar brand names from anywhere else in the world you’ll be competing with for attention? If yes, how strong is their page 1 presence? Brand name searches are popular online – as a given, your brand needs to come up numero uno for anyone running a search on it. And ideally anyone searching on your brand would prominently see a wide range of results which are only directly associated with you.
You’ll want to secure the Top Level Domain name for your brand in your primary geographic market, e.g. for an Australian business this would be the .com.au TLD (I recommend a country specific domain name over a generic .com). If the domain name you want is already taken, the hyphenated version may be available, e.g. www.the-box-people.com.au, but this has potential for confusion – people looking for your website might use the unhyphenated URL expecting to find you.
If the .com and the .net domains are also available for your brand names, go ahead and acquire these as a defensive play.
Registered Trademarks & Google AdWords
Check to see if anybody has your proposed brand name trademarked. In Australia you can run a trademark search here and apply to have a brand trademarked for $120 here.
Securing a trademark for your brand prevents others from claiming or using it for their own purposes. Furthermore, Google will not allow its AdWords advertisers to use trademarked keywords to trigger an AdWords ad, or to appear in the body of one. Be aware however that Google mostly relies on others to notify it of any violations; you can alert Google of an AdWords related trademark violation here.
Is your proposed brand name already a (popular) YouTube username? Usernames can be up to 20 characters long and can include both letters and numbers; they can also contain capital and lowercase letters. If you have a two of three word brand name, consider capitalising the first letter of each word, e.g. TheBoxPeople. Once you have created your YouTube account you cannot change the username associated with the account – choose carefully.
While it’s nice to get your brand name into your Twitter handle, it’s not essential. The page can still be strongly branded and any Twitter name can get itself known over time. Although Twitter allows usernames of up to 15 characters, shorter names are preferable as they take up less of the maximum 140 character allocation of each tweet. As with YouTube, usernames can contain numbers, and capital and lowercase letters.
While you’re in setting-up mode you might want to look at opening up a dedicated Google account, Google Analytics for your website or blog, a Facebook Page, a Flickr account, a LinkedIn business profile, and Bit.ly. Also, activate Foursquare and Google Places listings if you have any physical points of presence associated with your brand.
Image by jvleis