How To Help Clients Move On

It can be difficult to say goodbye to a name, but sometimes it has to be done.

It’s bound to happen -- a name fails to clear the trademark search, and the client doesn’t want to give it up. Surely there’s another way? What if I add “__” to the name? What if I spell it a different way? Will that work?

Sometimes a client needs to be helped through the stages of grief and denial. We’ve been there a time or two, and here are a few messages and examples that we've found helpful:
  • If the name is too generic, you probably didn’t want it anyway. Sure, right now it feels like “Pocket Tunes” is the perfect name for your portable music player… but try thinking a little bigger - maybe think a little more like Apple, and find yourself an ownable - and potentially iconic - name.
  • If the name is already in use, it’s not worth the risk to try to use it - and this is not just about avoiding a potential legal battle down the road. Think about it - do you really want to risk having customers looking for YOU and instead finding THEM? (This is especially important if any significant money will be spent on advertising or building brand awareness.)
  • Consider the competitive landscape and the potential for consumer confusion. Let’s use another example: Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Dollar Store -- you can probably envision one of these stores in your area… but do you know which one of the three it is?

If these points aren't sufficient, it may be necessary to take a deeper dive into the intricacies of trademark and common law screening. It really is important that all stakeholders appreciate that walking away from a name they can't own is the right move.

Of course, once you’ve helped them see that there are other fish in the sea, they still need to FIND one of those other fish… that’s where the “positive next step” comes in.

Topics: guidance, legal, agency