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The Power of a Name in the Digital World

In the digital era, your name is not just a tag that identifies you; it’s a brand, a trademark, an influencer tag, a creator’s signature, and so much more. It’s your unique identifier in a world teeming with content, ideas, and products. Today, I’m thrilled to dive into a topic that resonates with many of us – protecting your name in a landscape where it’s all too easy for someone to borrow, mimic, or outright steal. Let’s unravel the intricacies of safeguarding what’s rightfully yours, through the lens of five distinct categories: creator names, influencer tags, personal brand names, trade names, and trademarks.

YouTube video

From Passion to Platform: The Creator’s Journey

Imagine for a moment, that you’re someone with a profound love for dogs, particularly puppies, with their boundless energy and heart-melting cuteness. This passion isn’t just a hobby; it’s a part of who you are. You start capturing these joyous moments, sharing the playful antics of your furry friend online, initially just for the love of it. Picture a clumsy, oversized-pawed German Shepherd-Husky mix, tumbling and barking in sheer bliss – that’s the kind of joy you’re spreading.

As your videos find their way into the hearts of fellow dog lovers, you inadvertently step into the shoes of a content creator. Your audience grows, and soon, you’re not just sharing moments; you’re influencing pet care practices, recommending products, and answering queries about puppy training and nutrition. What started as a hobby is now a burgeoning community, looking up to you for advice and inspiration.

This transition from a creator to an influencer is often organic, fueled by passion and engagement. However, as you start monetizing this influence – perhaps through local training sessions or online tutorials – the need to formalize your venture becomes apparent. Your personal brand is taking shape, and with it, the necessity to protect the name you’ve built.

Securing Your Legacy: The Importance of Trade Names and Trademarks

Here’s where the distinction between the various kinds of names comes into play. A trade name might be your first step towards formalization, registering your venture with local authorities under a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name. This gives you local recognition, but what about when your influence crosses state lines, or even goes international? That’s where a trademark becomes invaluable.

Safeguarding Your Future: The Ultimate Protection of a Trademark

A trademark is not just a formality; it’s a shield for your brand, ensuring that the reputation and trust you’ve built can’t be undermined by imitators. It transcends the local recognition of a trade name, offering national, even global protection. It’s about securing your hard-earned reputation, the uniqueness of your brand, and ensuring that the equity you build in your name remains yours alone.

Embracing Your Identity with Confidence

Embarking on this journey, from a casual creator to an influential figure with a protected brand, is no small feat. It requires understanding the nuances of each stage, recognizing when to transition from one to the next, and taking the necessary steps to secure your identity at each juncture. Whether it’s deciding to formalize your influencer status into a personal brand, transitioning into a business entity with a trade name, or solidifying your brand’s protection with a trademark, each step is pivotal.


Mike Carr (00:01): 

Today, I’m super excited about the topic we’re going to discuss, and it might be dear to your hearts too, which is how do you protect your name from someone stealing it? Now, part of the confusion about protection is, well, what kind of name are we talking about? So there are five kinds of names that I want to go over with you today. One’s the creator, creator name, and I’ll tell you what that is. Next is the influencer, if you’re playing the role of the influencer and the name associated with that. The third is the brand name or your personal brand name. The fourth is the trade name and the fifth is the trademark. And part of the problem is the confusion just around what those things are. So let’s pretend that you love dogs, especially puppies because they’re so cute and they’re so furry and they’re just fun. Right? When I was little, we had a German shepherd husky mix, and his paws were much bigger than the rest of his body. So we’d run down the driveway and we’d do a sharp turn and king, our puppy dog would follow us, try to follow us, but he couldn’t make the turn. He wasn’t coordinated enough, so he tried to make the turn. He ended up rolling over and over and he was barking and he was chirping, and he was happy about it, but it was sort of crazy and funny to watch him do that. 


Excuse me. So let’s say you have that same passion. You have a little puppy dog, and so you still want to start taking some videos and posting those videos online and sharing them with others, and that’s a pretty exciting part of your life. So you put some videos out there and you say, Hey, this would be more fun if I go to the park. So you go to the park and start meeting other dog owners, pet owners, puppy owners. They want to be in your videos too. You start having followers and you’re just creating this content because you’re passionate about it. There’s joy. You want to share the fun and the excitement, but before you know it, you’ve got a few hundred followers, maybe even a few thousand, and people start to ask you questions. Hey, how did you train your dog to do that trick on that last video? 


Or What kind of puppy food do you think really works the best? Or My puppy asked Felice, what should I do? So now you’re answering questions, you’re doing a little bit of research, and before you know it, you’ve moved from creator to influencer, and there’s some opportunities you realize to make some money here. You could have local sessions, training sessions where everybody gets together at the park, and sure enough, you can teach them how to do certain things that you’ve learned how to do or that you’ve researched how to do. And so they can start subscribing to some of this content online where you video these educational tutorials. So you have the onsite in person, you have the video tutorials, and now you’re developing that influencer personal brand name. You’re thinking, man, I’m making money now. I need a company name. Maybe I use my brand name as my company name, but I need to file it. 


Well, who do you file it with? Well, you can file it with your county. In some states, you can file it with your Secretary of State in some states as your D-B-A-D-B-A, which stands for doing business as. Now when you file that name, you may think, man, that’s it. The county’s told me I can use it. Or the states told me I can use it. And so you’re out there creating this content, but before you know it, you’ve got folks from different parts of the country that want to subscribe to your little tutorials, or they want to maybe buy that pet food that you’ve designed yourself and you’ve started to sell online, or those collars that you think are so cute and everyone else thinks they’re cute too. So now you’re selling this stuff via the web around the country or adjacent states. Well, sort of the next step to protect that name is a trademark, which is different than a trade name. 


A trademark affords you protection to use your name as a brand name that no one else now can steal from you. So as you get bigger and bigger and start making money, money, money, money, lots of money, you know that as your brand and your reputation is curated by you and you bring some other people into your team to help you, and you’re building this business that no one can steal it, no one can encroach upon that, no one can come up with a cheap knockoff and use the same name. That’s what trademark’s all about. You don’t necessarily have that same protection with just a trade name or just using a name as your creator or as your influencer. You really do need to trademark it. Now, there’s certain kinds of common law usage that you just get by naturally using that name as a trademark right off the bat, but best kind of protection to actually filing it as a trademark with the US pto, United States Patent and Trademark Office. 


So you can go to US and then you’ll be able to actually search the name to make sure no one else is using it in other parts of the country, and you can actually go through a process and register it. We recommend use an attorney to do that, but if you don’t want to use an attorney, you might be able to do it yourself. So just to recap the five kinds of names, and you may evolve through all five of these, or you may start at a different point, creator, when you’re just passionate about something, right? You just want to start doing some things and putting some stuff out there on your Instagram page or your TikTok page because it’s fun and exciting to share with friends. And then all of a sudden you start growing and popularity and exposure and people start asking you questions and you move from creator to influencer. And now you start to sell things, maybe content or maybe little products you develop. And now you have a personal brand. You’re starting to brand your products with your name, your content with your name, and now you need a company under which to do this business with. That’s the trade name. You’re doing business as name. You might register with your county or state, but if you really want to protect your name the right way, you file it as a trademark, either at the state, but even better with 


The U-S-P-T-O. Now, it’s never too early to file that trademark, but a lot of folks won’t do it until they get to be a certain size. Just don’t forget to do it because you just start making more and more and more money. Someone might try to steal that name. They might want to play off all that equity and all that value you’ve created, and you don’t want to let them do that. So have fun and much success to you. 

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