We are extending our business into the field of online marketing. I’d like to name the company after myself, but I’m conflicted. Is naming a marketing firm after oneself OK? Is there a better strategy?
–Roberto Noce, Houston
It’s definitely OK to name a company after yourself — especially, if your expertise will serve as the centerpiece of your operation, says Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder of Mavens & Moguls, a marketing consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass. “Great brands start with great personal brands, so whether your name is on the door or not, it starts with you at the top,” she says. However, there are some risks.
If in the course of a marketing campaign, either you or an employee makes a glaring mistake, it’s your name — not just the company’s — on the line. If it’s a mistake that’s particularly onerous (Martha Stewart, ahem), you can change your company’s name but your own will follow you, Arnof-Fenn says.
In addition, if your personal brand dominates the corporate brand, it can be harder to exit the firm, transfer it or scale it up, Arnof-Fenn says. And if you do end up selling your business one day, you might lose the right to use your own name. To sell a company with a trademarked name requires giving up all the “good will,” or pleasant associations customers attach to brands or company names, says Barry Werbin, the chair of the intellectual property practice group at New York law firm Herrick, Feinstein. In the U.S., a sale of a trademark without “good will” will void the mark if it’s ever challenged in court, he says. (Click here for more on selling a trademarked company name.)
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