My brand hasn’t launched yet. Will you sign an NDA?

No problem. I’m used to this. I can send you the one I use, or you can send me yours.

Do you offer trademark or copyright services?

No. My preliminary search on TESS/USPTO is just that: preliminary. I want to make sure the name I’m offering you isn’t obviously taken in your category, but I would urge my clients to remember what’s written on the TESS homepage itself: “After searching the USPTO database, even if you think the results are O.K., do not assume that your mark can be registered at the USPTO. After you file an application, the USPTO must do its own search and other review, and might refuse to register your mark.” So I can’t be held liable if an option I offer you can’t ultimately be trademarked. I am not a trademark/copyright lawyer, nor am I privy to the inner workings of the USPTO.

I’d love to work with you but I don’t have a budget.

I know this isn’t a question but I hear it enough, so I’ll repeat my general answer here. I get it. I’m an entrepreneur. I’ve started businesses from scratch. I know what it’s like to build something from nothing and I’m sensitive to that. And if you’re building something mission or service-oriented, I’m open to hearing about it. But I’m also an expert. I’ve been naming things for ten years. I was the studio director of a branding agency. I’ve worked with clients like Google and the Four Seasons, specifically on naming. And if you’re serious about starting something, you should be serious about its name—because you’ll likely have it for the lifetime of your brand. I believe that’s worth investing in.

What if I don’t like any of the names?

This very rarely happens because I have a process to avoid just that. From the start, I try to avoid a language of likes and dislikes. It’s incredibly subjective, and naming is subjective enough already. My process is built around avoiding this subjectivity, and every name you get will fit the brief we develop together. So if there are ten names that all fit our brief and you you still don’t “like” any of them, I might ask you to re-investigate those reasons, ask the opinions of shareholders and people you trust, and go from there. But most of my clients are really happy with their options and usually find a few they like in the first round or two.