So you have an idea and want to start your own business. We learn in the book “Business is Kid Stuff” that business is like playing a sport. In sports, every team has a name and a unique logo that helps their fans identify the team they claim as their own. A logo also helps fans to align with who the company is and what it provides. Note I said who the company is. That was not a grammatical error. Your company will create its own personality and human-like qualities. Often companies take on the human qualities of its founder(s.) This is important to understand because it will help you understand how to build and represent your company’s personality or brand.
For example,in the book Business is Kid Stuff, Mako and Melina are building a skateboard company. Mako wants to call his company, “Kickflip.” Let’s help Mako find out if the name Kickflip is available to use for his company. Yes, I said available to use. You are not legally allowed to use a name for your company that is already being used by another. The first thing is to do a Google or other search engine search on the name Kickflip. If we find any companies in the same market and region using that name, it is not available. Or is it? Mako said he wants to name his company Kickflip, but he will take the flip and turn it upside-down. At this point, Mako made a unique mark that can be protected as his own.
Notice I used the words “unique mark.” The legal purpose of a “unique mark” is to help the consumer find what they are looking for. If two companies (or more) are using the same exact mark, it will confuse the consumer. Such confusion can lead to the customer being taken advantage of or cause an unfair perception of what hey are purchasing. And when a new company copies an existing mark, they are stealing all the name recognition for which the company has spend money to create. Thus, if you get caught using a name that already exists, you may find yourself in court and all the money you made can be granted to the owner of the company who first created the mark.
Let’s say we searched for Kickflip and did not find another company (in the same consumer good category) with that name. Is it safe to use? No. Next, we will search the Secretary of State’s Business Entity database to see if anyone has registered a name like the one we want to create. Or you can hire a company like LegalZoom to do the search and file the registration papers you will need to protect your name.
What about logos?
In our book “Business is Kid Stuff,” the kids make their own logos. Each logo incorporates the colors that will represent the company (just like teams have their own colors), a stylized font and maybe even a character or symbol. Take a look at the logo ideas below or do a Google search for the logos of your favorite companies to help you get your creative thinking warmed up.
I’ve working in marketing for many companies in the past and teach this subject at the university level. I have a few suggestions to pass on:
- Keep your logo simple.
- Do not use too many colors
- Make sure your logo looks good in many different sizes.
- Make a black and white version for when printing in color is not possible.
- Get opinions from others–do they see and feel what you want others to see and feel?
Of the logos above, Mako’s Kickflip logo fits all the criteria: it is simple, there are only two colors used, because it is simple it will look good in many different sizes, the logo will look good in black and white, and it expresses an idea or feeling skateboarders will understand so it will be memorable.
If you follow these simple instructions, at any age, you too can create a name and a winning logo for your company.
—Ellen M. Callen
Ellen is the founder, Via E, Inc. She has been an Instructor at the University of California, Irvine since 2004 and most recently was awarded the Distinguished Instructor Award, University California, Irvine, Division of Continuing Education in 2019. Ellen is the author of 3 college-level textbooks and 12 children’s books. In addition she has earned three product design awards. Although she has held several senior positions in both international and domestic companies, Ellen’s passion is best fulfilled sharing knowledge and, hopefully, inspiring other to pursue their dreams.