Advice & TipsAsk an ExpertNovember/December 2023Previous Issues

Q: How do I choose a name for my franchise business?

Thinking of franchising your business? Great! There’s a lot to consider, but it all starts with your name. You might think, “But I already have a current business and a name I’ve been using for years.”

Yes, that may be true, but to franchise your business, that name must pass a few tests.

  1. Does the name represent your product or service? “Jim’s Pizza” lets customers know that you have a pizza franchise, whereas “Jim’s” may cause confusion with prospecting customers as to the nature of your product or service.
  2. Is your name easy to remember and pronounce? If it takes a linguistics expert to say the name of your franchise, you may want to consider changing it. If your customers can’t pronounce it, they probably won’t remember it either.
  3. How do you want your customers to perceive your franchise? Is it a fun, family-friendly restaurant or a serious, security-based document shredding business? What comes to mind when people see and hear your name?
  4. Will it stand out among other franchises? Probably one of the most difficult tasks in naming your franchise is to make your name unique. Is your name distinctive enough that it can be trademarked? In most instances, if someone is currently using a name to operate a business, then by law your name can’t be the same or similar.
  5. Does your name reflect your franchise’s vision, values, and personality? Will your name resonate with your target audience, customers, and potential franchisees, as well as your overall marketing and brand strategy?

One of the easiest ways to start choosing a name is to search the internet. Enter the name you want to use and see what comes back. Are there businesses using the same or similar name? Will you be able to secure an available domain name or have the related web addresses all been taken?

Look at social media handles as well. Have they already been taken or is there an opportunity for you to secure them? Will your customers be able to find you and your business by doing a simple Google search? Remember, if they can’t find you easily then chances are they’ll go to another franchise that they can find quickly. As Canada is a bilingual country, ensure your franchise name can be translated to French. You may not have plans to franchise in Quebec but being prepared with the right name is a smart decision. For franchises to compete on a global scale, names, websites, and local marketing need to consider local culture and be translated into several languages. Sometimes straightforward translations don’t work, and slogans may need to be rewritten for an international audience.

Selecting the right name for your franchise business is critical, and now is the time to ensure you have the right one going forward. Imagine having opened a dozen franchises and then receiving a cease-and-desist order from a company that already uses your name or one similar. That could be disastrous for you and your franchise.

Using the internet and Google searches will help you to narrow down a name, but a second and third opinion could also help. Your franchise lawyer will help to steer you in the right direction, while a trademark lawyer will do a proper search for your name and can start the registration and trademarking process of your name to ensure it’s free and clear for you to use.

Having the right name, one that can be trademarked and made secure for your franchise system, is imperative. Your name speaks volumes so it’s important to secure your trademark early, before you start franchising. It conveys who you are, what you do, and the vision and values for your business. Your name is essential to building your business and creating franchise opportunities moving forward. It’s one of the key building blocks for your franchise system.

So, what’s in a name? For a franchise system or a successful business, a name can be everything.

Patti Hone


As You Like It Marketing & Communications