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Personal Branding: Pros and Cons of Naming Your Business After Yourself

Personal Branding: Pros and Cons of Naming Your Business After Yourself

Are you wondering if your business name can be trademarked? Or wondering what to name your new business? Or maybe you’re asking yourself whether you can name the business after yourself. While it can be a personal and meaningful choice to use your personal name in your business, there are some legal considerations and potential challenges to be aware of when taking this route.

Together let's explore the implications and shed light on the process of registering trademarks for proper names. 

The Pros and Cons of Naming Your Business After Yourself

Pro - Using Your Personal Name as Your Business Name Can Create Brand Recognition

Using your personal name can create significant brand recognition… but with less exclusive rights. Of course, your name as your business name can create a strong personal brand association. It allows you to connect with your audience on a deeper level and build trust, simply because they attach an automatic association between you as the face of the brand and your business reputation. If you are known in your community by your name, it is often easier to find your business through Google by researching your name. However, what people do not understand legally is that using your name doesn't automatically grant you exclusive rights to that name in the business context.

Con - Personal Names as Business Names Can Be More Difficult To Legally Protect

Proper names (first, middle, and last names) are generally hard to protect because you cannot claim ownership over a name without showing that it is distinctive in the marketplace. For example, if your name is John Smith and you want to start a coffee shop, calling it "Smith's Coffee" you may not be able to protect the name because there are a million Smith businesses out there. In order to protect and trademark a proper name you have to show evidence that your business name is well-known and has made an impact on consumers. This is called having a “secondary meaning” in the trademark world. Gathering evidence like this can be very hard to do as a small business owner—essentially you have to have a name that is recognizable worldwide like ‘Beyonce’ or ‘Madonna’. 

A Unique Business Name is Easier To Legally Protect

With that being said, using your name in your business is not impossible. For instance, my name is Paige and I do own a business trademark named ‘The Legal Paige’, so it is possible!  The trick about using your name is that if you use it in a clever way where it may be more distinct than just the proper name in solo form, then you have a better chance of legally owning it. Thus, if you can make use of your name in a distinctive way that sets apart your name and your business it will probably be easier to protect. Additionally, you can differentiate your business by adding a distinctive element or using a variation of your name to enhance trademark protection (e.g. Meryl Streep trademarked her celebrity name while her real name is Mary Louise Streep).


How To Legally Protect Your Business Name

Whatever name for your business that you choose, it is important that you know how to protect it! When you are choosing a new business name make sure you follow these steps: \

Step 1 - Do Basic Research on the Personal Name and/or Business Name.

See if you can find the name on google, social media, and even the USPTO site. If you're not finding your business name in connection with the same services you’re offering then it could be a good option for you to choose that name. 

Step 2 - Do a Trademark Search on the Personal Name or Business Name.

Whether you are just starting out or are an established business owner you should be looking into whether someone out there has already trademarked your name or is using your name. Hiring an attorney to do a comprehensive mark search of your business name will allow you to see whether your mark is able to be protected is an important step for every business owner. This is a really good option if you are intending to use your personal name for or in your business name.

Step 3 - File a Trademark Registration for Your Business Name.

If you or your attorney is not finding any red flags for your business name then the next step would be to federally trademark your name. If you are a confident DIYer you can register it by yourself through this Trademarking Guide. However, many people find that registering trademarks can be hard to do by yourself so your best bet is to hire an attorney to walk you through the process. 


Now that you know which legal considerations to be aware of surrounding the use of proper names in a business context, you are ready to confidently protect your name.  If you want to take the next step and register your name as a trademark to provide additional nation-wide protection and help safeguard your brand, please reach out to my law firm Griffith Law today!  

THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. EVERY SITUATION IS DIFFERENT & IS FACT-SPECIFIC. A proper legal analysis is necessary based on your location and contract. Consult an attorney in your home state for advice regarding your contract or specific legal situation.
See our full disclaimer here.

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