Making A Name For Yourself

For the last part of this blog series on “getting started 101,” I wanted to talk about finding and reserving your name.  Names are key identifiers to not only us as individuals but also for businesses. This is the most basic form of how companies differentiate themselves from other companies within a market. I will walk you through the steps on how we reserved our name via a trademark so that other businesses can’t use our chosen name.

 

First off, you have to really get your brain going and find a name that doesn’t just describe what you do but really evokes the emotions and senses that you want to be a part of your brand’s identity. As you all know, our brand’s name in Jeanesis. This is a combination of the word “Jean,” what we intend to sell, and the word, “Genesis,” which is the first book of the Bible.  Also, according to dictionary.com, genesis means “an origin, creation or beginning.” We want our consumers to identify our brand as the start of something great and inspire others to follow their passions and dreams along the way whether that is with designing responsibly sourced apparel or something completely different. So, choose your name wisely and maybe bounce ideas off of friends, colleagues and family to see what they first think of when they hear it.

 

Once you have chosen your name you need to reserve it so that other businesses can’t use the awesome name that you have chosen. For this, you will need to register your name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If you are in another country, there will be a similar office that handles intellectual property. You can either register your name (or “mark” as they call it) after you have begun selling your product or service or before using an “intent-to-use” application. We registered our name under the “intent-to-use” application because we have not begun selling yet and this has worked out well. The downside is that applicants need to pay to continuously re-register the application every 6-months until the company begins “using” the mark by selling the goods or services under the brand name. I highly recommend registering under the “intent-to-use” application if what you will be marketing will take some time to develop.

 

Now, I can write blogs, but I am no expert on filing applications with the U.S. government, so I hired an expert Patent and Trademark Attorney out of an office in San Diego, CA. Our attorney, actually, happens to be a college friend of my brother and he is awesome. If you would like to get in touch with him, please message me or leave a note in the comments section and I can email you his details. He helped us do quick and easy “preliminary” searches in the U.S. PTO’s database to see if our name would be available. Using his guidance, we were able to narrow down a few of our top name choices and we found that Jeanesis would have a good chance of being accepted by the Office. So, our attorney submitted our application and we waited…then waited some more until, finally, we received the go-ahead for our brand name. Overall, the waiting period took about 4 months so I recommend starting the process early. Otherwise, you have to wait before you can start designing logos, slogans, business cards and websites until you have an approved mark.

 

Overall, it was a fairly straightforward process once we conducted the searches and filed the application. Make sure to really take time in coming up with a great name that helps you stand out. Ultimately, that will be how your consumers identify you. If your name is unique enough, then it should hold up in the registration application process. Thank you all for listening to me rant about trademarks for a bit and I hope that it was useful for you. Have a great week and enjoy the spring!

Plug

 The name of your brand is powerful. Recently, I was shopping for a Level 2 Wall Charger for our plug-in hybrid vehicle. I was reading reviews of dozens of products and I settled on this plug because 1) it received great reviews by users and 2) because it was made by GE and I had heard of the company before. The GE name, to me, meant that the product was designed and built by people who had much experience producing quality electrical supply products. I am sure that other brands also make great wall chargers but I went with what I knew, since I didn’t have a lot of experience with the product type. Choose your name carefully because it will be the way that most people remember you.

 

“The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give” – Isaiah 62:2

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Charting Your Course

In continuation of my latest blog topic, start-up business essentials, the focus of this post is on the all-important business plan.. I hear a lot about business plans in daily life, but due to most start-ups’ understandable need for confidentiality, I rarely get to read other people’s business plans. So, when I started doing researching and organizing our business plan, I only had two examples and they were very different from one another.

Example 1: Undergraduate Senior Project

At my alma mater, the Business program is seen as the second most academically demanding course of study behind Pre-Med. This was primarily because of one class: Business Ethics, Strategy and Policy. The class was one of two capstone courses that all business majors were required to take senior year, and it was the single most demanding business class at Pepperdine. For the last six weeks or more of the course, teams worked together to write and pitch a business plan to a panel of professors and alumni. Armed with Red Bull and coffee, my partner and I were in charge of researching and composing the 20-plus-page section describing the internal operations of our desired start-up. In total, the business plan was over 250 pages with about 10 pages of footnotes. It was massive and the Power Point that we created to go along with it was equally massive. We were all exhausted after the final presentation, but it was an amazing experience.

The problem, I found out later on, with this type of business plan is that it is not necessarily “realistic.” Yes, all business plans need research and footnotes, but since there were about 10 of us, we really dug into the details, methodology and references. We got so involved in the details that at times I had to keep reminding myself of the goal and the purpose of our proposed start-up business. More and more it felt as though I was writing a paper to defend the operations and logistics and less about just laying out the flow of the goods from ideation to consumer.

Example 2: Ariel Investments

After my sophomore year of college, I came home to intern in marketing at Ariel Investments. Ariel is a large mutual fund management firm that manages money for individual as well as institutional retirement funds. I loved observing how and why Ariel’s investment gurus selected the stocks they did to invest in and I enjoyed seeing how the funds were then pitched and sold by the Marketing team. It was a great learning experience and an internship like no other. The funny thing is they kept pictures of the Ariel business plan on site.  The founder of the company wrote the business plan on a McDonalds napkin while he was eating lunch there. There were no fancy flowcharts, SWOT Analyses or Venn Diagrams, simply pen ink and a greasy piece of paper.  

This business plan, although sufficient for Ariel since it became an incredible success, may not be enough for your start-up which may need significant outside investment and funding.

I wanted to highlight these two examples because they framed my perspective on business plan styles. Simply put, those starting their own ventures should try to find a middle ground between these two examples that works for them. Don’t get so bogged down in the details that you delay your launch; yet don’t be so casual about planning that you spend valuable time later on having to iron out the details. Find that perfect balance for you so that you can know exactly where you are going, why and how you will get there.

I have copied below a quick and dirty business plan outline I share with a high school business class I mentor. It recaps the nuts and bolts and seems to be a good framework. I’d be interested in your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think might be missing or what you found helpful in creating your business plan. Thanks as always for following along and have a great day.

Hallway

Planning and looking ahead in life is essential. It is hard to view in this photo but there is a (for my standards) HUGE spider in the middle of this hallway. It is very hard to see. If I had not looked up and taken a second to see where I was going, I would have run face first right into it.  

 

 

“Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21