What’s in a name?

579px Wanamaker Organ 1904

Back when bricks-and-mortar businesses still roamed the earth, there were many factors which went into the success of a business and a brand. Yes, your name was important, but it was tied in many ways to a much larger marketing vehicle – your community. A huge part of that was location, since a department store at say, Broad and Market Streets in Philadelphia would, by virtue of its location be seen by thousands if not tens of thousands of people every day. That store could then leverage its location to increase its exposure across the market, by advertising in the newspaper, putting up billboards, or even sponsoring the local little league team (that’s a children’s baseball league, for my international readers).

Ultimately, while the name of the business was important, and the loss of that name could harm the business, the underlying business fundamentals relied on much more than that. The store alluded to above, once known as Wanamaker’s (home of the Wanamaker Organ), was changed to Lord & Taylors and is now a Macy’s, but it’s still selling many of the same products it was before from that same location.

For most modern businesses, that’s a lot different. Everything – and I mean everything – runs through the business’s name. Sure, that name is adopted for all sorts of different purposes, like domain names or social media handles, but your success today depend almost completely on the translation of a recognizable and memorable name into a series of ones and zeros which, in turn, control almost every aspect of a commercial transaction between you and your customers. No matter how slick your marketing is, lose the name and, in many cases, you lose the business.

That, unfortunately, is what UK Twitch streamer Lydia Ellery is finding out. According to the BBC, Ellery has been online for over 11 years under the handle “SquidGaming.” To be honest, I have no idea what she does, but it probably doesn’t matter since she will probably be forced to change that handle to something else with the remarkable (and slightly odd) success of the Korean TV show “Squid Games.” Unfortunately for Ellery, she doesn’t appear to have trademarked her Twitch handle, so it’s likely she’ll receive little or no compensation for the cost to her brand which will result.

Don’t get me wrong – lined up against a large corporation, many businesses may well lose lose the war of attrition that is a trademark lawsuit. A registered trademark gives them at least a fighting chance of being compensated for that loss, sometimes handsomely.

The lesson here? Register your trademark. Yes, it’s a little expensive for a name which, as Ellery put it, was just a “silly name.” In the end, however, not registering your trademark could cost even more.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, public domain

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