Every major business had to, at some point, get their name. Skype was nearly called Sky Peer to Peer – which is hardly as catchy. E-Bay was supposed to be Echo Bay. It was only shortened to the catchy title we know today because the web domain echobay.com was unavailable.
The import export venture you start today may end up listed on the JSE, so think about it. What name do you want to see up there? Just like Skype, E-Bay and lots of other well-known brands, you may find your first choice isn't necessarily the best choice.
Here are the 5 essential rules to naming you import export venture:
1. Leave possibility, but don’t be vague
Nokia, named after a city in Finland, started out as a wood-pulp mill. You too may want to expand into new commodities, services, and locations down the line. Choosing a name that is too specific can end up limiting your options. A name like “West Coast Crochet Kits” leaves little flexibility.
That being said, a good name conveys something about what you do. Even Apple, which we all instantly recognise now, are technically called Apple Computers. Before the brand was famous, its name defined its field of expertise, but did not limit it to one product.
2. Collect lots of opinions
The name you like may not resonate with others. Make a list of 10 potential names and get as much feedback as possible. Make people repeat it out loud to get a “feel” for the sound. After a few days, ask them which of the names they can recall. A great name is immediately likeable and sticks in your mind.
With any business, but especially an import export venture, bear other languages and accents in mind. Even Nissan had to simplify their name from Nippon Sangyo for the sake of their international market.
3. If you can’t have it, let is go
It’s unlikely that you are the first to come up with a particularly great business name. Search the name you have in mind online. A similar offering that may be mistaken for your business can cost you clients simply because they are more established.
Also check for an available web domain that works with you name. Bear in mind you can try different extensions (web address types). For example, if davescakes.co.za is not an option, davescakes.com may be available. Once again, an establish brand with a similar web address may confuse your clients. If it is possible to buy different versions of your web domain, do so.
4. Check registration and trademark availability
Have an availability check and name reservation done with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). This does not mean your company is registered, it just means no-one else can have the name.
Ask a trademark lawyer to check whether your intended name has been registered. Trademarking works according to 45 classes, or types of brands. If the name you like is already trademarked, but not in the same class as your brand, there is no conflict. Trademarks are country specific, so you'll have to run a check for each of your export markets.
5. Don't harp on it - you can always change your mind
Although choosing a nice name for your business is important, you’re not committed forever. If you no longer like your registered company name, you have three options:
Option 1: Register a new company – Although a new company registration is quick and easy to do, having multiple companies means you will have to file multiple CIPC and SARS income tax returns every year.
Option 1a: Use a trading-as name - Lots of companies and individuals use trading-as names for their branding, but it carries some risk.
The Consumer Protection Act states that a person or company’s registered name must be present on marketing material, invoices, letterheads, and documents involving outside parties. Failure to comply can result in a fine or prosecution. Plus, if your trading-as name is up for grabs at the CIPC someone else can register it and make you change your branding.
Option 2: Change it - You can change your businesses’ registered name to something more suitable down the line. It will still be the same CIPC registration with the same registration number. Changing an existing company’s registered name, as opposed to registering a new one, carries a marketing benefit:
The first four digits of a company’s registration number is its “birth” year. Updating an older registration means anyone who sees the registration number will judge your brand as being much more established than if they saw a recent registration.
Regardless of the name you choose for your import export venture, Import Export License is ready to get your company registered and ready for international trade. Simply get in touch to get started.