You have this idea for something big. There's a passion brewing within you that you're not sure if you should pursue or not. Something huge that could easily be the next household name but you're just not quite sure of how to go about getting started.
You're in luck! It's an easy process. Let's take a walk.
1 | Check with TESS
No, I'm not talking about your aunt Tess you haven't spoken to in a while. You should call her, by the way. TESS stands for Trademark Electronic Search System. It's relatively simple to use and can save you a ton of time in the future if you check it now. Before we get into that, you need a name.
Let's say you just created the worlds best vacuum and you want everyone to know about it. What should you name your brand new company? For the sake of an easy example, we'll go with Dyson. Next, we should check with TESS to see if the name Dyson is taken. Well, I have bad news, it is. In fact, there are 72 records found with the Dyson name in it. Of course, not all have to do with the vacuum, so you'll have to sort through those.
The nifty thing about TESS is that you can click on each brand name and see exactly what is registered. Number 6 on the list is simply Dyson, so I clicked on that one. You can see in this particular example that the Dyson company went specifically after toys in this registration. In the Goods and Services section you can see things like, "Toys, games and playthings; toy household appliances; toy vacuum cleaners; toy washing machines; toy fans" etc.
Even further than just registering what they are or what they do, Dyson registers their mark. This means that they registered the way the Dyson name looks. Under Mark Drawing Code, you can see "(5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM". Simply put, if you put this name on your vacuum in any color (as stated further down in the registration), you're gonna get sued.
Perhaps you are really set on the Dyson brand name andreally want it. Well, too bad. For the sake of curiosity, let's look up Dison on TESS. Surprisingly, there is only 1 record found and it is a clothing company that the trademark died on 10 years ago! Well, that's good news if you plan to use the name Dison, just don't use it on vacuums or you'll be expecting a pretty little cease and desist letter.
2 | Alternative names
Hopefully while you were creating this revolutionary vacuum, you thought of a few names others than Dyson.
This is the ultimate vacuum, right? How about Ultivac? Let's check.
Score! The Ultivac name died back in 1992. This means your new brand is now in the clear to be trademarked if you wish to do that.
Word to the wise: If you plan on trademarking a previously used name, go ahead and Google it to make sure there is no bad past reputation that followed the brand name to its death. In this case, googling the Ultivac brand name shows an aquarium vacuum and a comic book character. It seems that any name can turn into a comic book character.
In the paragraph above, you may notice that I said, "If you plan on trademarking...". The truth is, you may not feel the need to trademark your name and that's perfectly okay.
3 | Registering your Name
Because you are not a 13 year old mowing lawns for your neighbors, you'll need a business name to accept money under. What you will need to do is register your name is some type of way for legal reasons.
In my situation, I didn't care to do business under my legal name of Colton Mathieu. My last name is hard to spell for those who haven't seen it before and often people are positioned to pronounce it like math-ow. It's math-ew, by the way. Either way, I decided that wasn't the brand name I wanted to run with.
With my legal name out of the possible name list, I found a name that I decided to run with. Check out my bio to read about why I chose Coco The Bear. Once you have found your name to build your empire with and decided to not go with a trademark quite yet, you should register a DBA.
Quite simply, a DBA means Doing Business As. For example, Colton Mathieu is DBA Coco The Bear. Yes, it is as simple as it sounds. As a matter of fact, registering a DBA is as simple as filling out a paper, going down to your county clerk's office, and paying a small fee. I was in and out in 15 minutes.
1. Google this, "registering a DBA in _______"
2. Print out and fill out the paper
3. Go to the county clerk's office and verify everything is in order
I almost wished it was a longer process so it felt like I was making a huge milestone in my prospective career, but I guess I can't complain about efficiency.
4 | Build your brand
Here's where the real fun begins. You have your name and are ready to start bringing in the moolah. First, people need to see who you are. This is my shameless plug of getting you to partner with me! From here, we'll build you logo, business cards, website, and a complete theme to encompass it all. We should get started.
While you're here, check out what I did for Artichoke Alley!
What brand have you been envisioning?