How to Select an Import/Export Company Name

By John J. Capela

One of the first decisions you’ll make (and one that you can have a little fun with) is finding the right name for your import/export business. You may spend a lot of time deliberating about potential names for your business. Choosing a name is one of the more challenging aspects of starting your new import/export business — and you have to do it without the help of all those name books that new parents have!

Your company name will serve as your initial identification to your customers. If you don’t have a business name, you come across as inexperienced. No matter what you name your business (no matter how good or bad the name is), just having a name establishes that you’re a company, and people will be more interested in dealing with you. That said, you want to choose a name that has some kind of meaning to you and that projects the right image to your customers. The name you choose automatically becomes a tool you can use in marketing your business.

When deciding on a business name, focus on the product or service that you’ll be selling and on your intended customer. You may want to include a word like international, trading, import, export, or global in your name.

On the other hand, you may want to wait to finalize your business name if you tend to deal with a specific product or category of products. After all, including a product in your name may work against you as your business grows.

When you’re thinking about names, check phone books and do an Internet search to see whether any other U.S. businesses are using a name similar to the one you’re considering. Finding another company using the same name in a similar business may create problems if you want to register or trademark your company name.

Here are some of the desirable characteristics for an effective company name:

  • The name suggests something about the company, its products, or its services.

  • The name is easy to spell and pronounce. Your customers should be able to remember it and spell it correctly.

  • The name can be registered. What’s the point of starting any company or marketing campaign if you can’t have full rights in the name? Your best defense against having someone else use the name you’ve selected is a registered trademark (designed by ® in the name), which only the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can issue. The USPTO won’t issue a registration certificate if it judges the name to be generic or if someone else is already using the name. Be sure to trademark your business name through the USPTO and register it through the secretary of state where your business is located.

    If your business operates online, be aware that domain names are not registered through state or local governments. Just registering your domain name is not enough to protect your great business name.