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In the offline world a generic name is never a good brand name. Such names have limited potential as trade marks even if you manage to register them (which we may manage to do for you in combination with a logo). Nevertheless people choose generic names because the name immediately communicates the type of goods or services the business provides.

Before answering this question, let us clarify what is meant by ‘generic’ from a branding and trade mark point of view. A generic name is one that describes the product a business is engaged in providing brand naming suggestions. Whether a name is generic is relative. Examples of generic domain names that have reportedly fetched large sums of money on a resale as domain names are Wines.com and Mortgage.com. Such names are generic as brand names for a wine merchant or mortgage provider respectively. To give a ridiculous example, if the wine merchant used the brand name Mortgage.com, or the mortgage provider used the brand name Wines.com, the names would be distinctive rather than descriptive for trade mark purposes (although as a brand name it would still not be as good as a proper name – a side issue which is outside the scope of this article).

So, provided a name does not “consist exclusively of signs or indications which may serve to designate the kind, value, quantity or purpose of goods or services”, it may be trade marked. A distinctive, different and non descriptive name gives you the singularity that is the hallmark of a memorable, trademarkable brand name.

In trade mark terms the best names are made-up ones that are suggestive of the product or services to be supplied, but not descriptive of them. If a business can coin a distinctive name – ideally a proper name like Exxon, Ford, Mercedez Benz, McDonalds, Starbucks, the name will be ideally suited to the purpose of building brand identity around it.

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