If you are looking for a new brand name for a product, service or business it makes sense to do some checks as part of the process.  There is no point coming up with a fantastic name if others are also using it and you are not going to be able to establish a presence in the market for the brand.

As soon as the brand pops into your head – get on the web and starting searching to see how the brand or concept is being used on the web.  Who is using it, in what domain and for what?  Hopefully there is a space to make your own – if not consider another brand.

The next most important thing and the place to start in my view is the domain name.  Without the domain name an online brand is nothing.  The domain name is also usually the hardest thing to get.  I usually check  domain name availability by going to Hetzner – I find they have the best interface and the best tools for checking what is available.  They are the most comprehensive in terms of telling you what is taken and what are the other alternatives.  Also, if you decide to register a domain, they are one of the cheapest around.  Ok, so the .com is available.

If the brand is relevant to South Africa, you can then also go to Uniforum and check whether the .co.za domain name is available.  You can also see who has registered similar domain names.  You want a strong domain name – a .com is best.  First check to see if you can get the .com and if you can then often you can get the .co.za.  The .co.za’s are easier to get.  Right you have your domain name.

These are just some initial screening tests to determine whether a potential brand is a possibility.  If it passes, there are various other steps to take to establish and protect the online brand.