As a coach, consultant, or other service professional, your marketing will work a lot harder for you if you establish a brand name, instead of simply doing business under your own name. You'll want to make sure the brand name you choose strategically represents the work you do or the products and services you sell, and you'll want to make sure no one else is already using the name.

There are several, simple and free, web searches that anyone can do in just a few minutes, to learn if a potential business or brand name is already being used.

Step 1: Go to any website domain registration company and search for the name as a website URL. If it’s already registered that’s not a good sign, but that’s not the end of your search.

Next, click on the WHOIS link to see who owns the domain and when it was registered.

Third, look up the website URL to see if there is currently a website hosted there.

Fourth, do a Google search to see if anyone is doing business using the name. Often people register domains but never use them, in which case if Step 2 checks out, you may want to contact the owner of the domain and try to purchase it, or simply go ahead and register a variation on that domain.

But you can’t stop there. Just because the website domain is available, or you don’t find anyone in your search, does not mean someone is not already using the business or brand name.

Step 2: Go to and do a free trademark search on the name. If the name comes up and there is a live trademark registered, you probably don’t want to use the name, unless it’s for a completely different type of business.

If the business is in your industry or is similar, start looking for another name. Even if you don’t plan to trademark the name, you don’t want to infringe on someone’s brand that they’ve spent time and money building. Plus, it will quite possibly create confusion among your prospects and clients, and you could end up spending your time and money marketing their business. Also, if you ever do want to trademark the name, you probably won’t be able to.

And, probably worst of all, if you go ahead and use the trademarked name, and register a website domain, and design a website and marketing materials, you could find yourself the recipient of a legal cease and desist letter demanding that you stop using the name.

That means you lose any brand equity you’ve built, plus all the time and money you’ve invested in your marketing, website, and anything else you’ve created. It also means you have to re-brand your business and start over. Not only will this cost you money and be a huge inconvenience, it can potentially cost you clients and be a serious setback.

Disclaimer: Please note I am not an attorney and this article is not to be taken as legal advice. If you have legal questions about trademarking please consult an attorney.

Author's Bio: 

Debbie LaChusa is a marketing consultant, speaker, blogger, and the author of three books including her latest, "Breaking the Spell: The Truth about Money, Success, and the Pursuit of Happiness". She's also known as The Business Stylist because she helps service professionals package their services, and design, brand, and market their businesses so they are more enjoyable, successful, and profitable. To learn more about Debbie and register for a free chapter from "Breaking the Spell" please visit