Don’t name your business after yourself

2 min read

Using your own name to run a business is a terrible idea. Here’s why.

You may have heard of Dale Carnegie. He’s the guy that revolutionised the self-improvement, public speaking and leadership industries back in the early 1900s. One of his notable books - How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) is still a bestseller today. In this book, he writes  “A person's name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound.”

 

And it’s true. Brands named after real people come across as more humble and personal. After all, who doesn't trust Walt Disney, Giorgio Armani and Johnnie Walker?

 

But including your own name in your brand can also be a bit of a red flag - especially if you want to make money by selling it one day. Let’s take a look at three possible outcomes:

 

1. Close The Business

 

In January, Samantha Wills closed her $10 million jewellery brand. In a letter published on her Instagram, Sam said she chose her name in her early 20s and didn’t think about what would happen when the time came to sell her business.

 

In an exclusive statement to Mamamia, Sam stated, “selling the business was not an option to me as I couldn’t hand over my name.” If Sam sold the business, she would have to forfeit control over her name and reputation. Additionally, she would find it legally impossible to start a new fashion label under her birth name.

 

2. Battle The Courts

 

If you decide to open your business under your name, there is a chance you could be unintentionally stepping on someone else’s copyright.

 

An article posted by Quartz claimed that emerging surfwear designer Thaddeus O’Neil was tangled in a legal battle with giant surfwear label O’Neill. Thaddeus is fighting for his naming rights, but it requires a lot of time and energy to prepare a defence.

 

3. Avoid The Courts

 

In 2012, French luxury brand Roger Vivier sued American handbag designer Clare Vivier for copyright infringements. The LA Times noted Clare “didn’t have the money to fight so settled and re-branded, changing the company name from Clare Vivier to Clare V.”

 

So What Is Your Exit Plan?

 

Your business name is a sellable asset. If you are a business owner remember your business name matters. Consider pairing your business name with a domain or protecting with a trademark. Check out our top tips for choosing the perfect business name today.

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