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My partners and I are opening up a retail location, should we keep the existing name of our online store?

By: Bill Wortman

 

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Two partners and I are looking to open up a retail store location. We have some questions about keeping the existing name of our online store the same but changing the name for a physical location. What’s better for us as a business?

 

Answer:
Business owners have flexibility in naming their businesses subject to any registered or common law trademark restrictions and any state business entity or state/local trade name registration restrictions. The primary considerations when selecting a business name are whether the name is available (not only for registration but also for commercial purposes as well), whether it can be trademarked (if necessary) and, if planning on having a website, whether a similar domain name is available. This process typically involves conducting federal and state trademark and common law searches and may require the assistance of a local lawyer to confirm that the name you select is available for commercial purposes. You can review examples and suggestions on how to select a business name and find business name registration and protection information at websites like the following:

As for using different business names for traditional offline retail (brick-and-mortar) and online retail sales channels, such a strategy is uncommon. We do not know the consumer recognition you have developed for your website name or what name you plan on using for your new retail store, but the decision to adopt a different business name for your retail store should be thoroughly analyzed. For example, if you use an entirely different name, any brand name recognition you have developed through your website name would not extend to your retail store. You would need to develop brand name recognition for the name you adopt for your retail store, which could take a period of time. Also, because you are using different business names for each sales channel, you will need to devote greater time and resources to marketing your business.

Generally speaking, changing a business name can be a costly and disruptive process, especially for established businesses, so it is not customary for businesses to change their names unless there is compelling reason to do so.

Published: July 16, 2014
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