Friday, October 17, 2008

What's in a name?

You have no idea! Lissa and I just got our federal trademark registration for RSVPstyle in the mail this week. Thank you, United States Patent and Trademark Office! Yahoo! It's been almost a year and a half in the making.

Let me start from the beginning. When we first started RSVPstyle, we weren't RSVPstyle. We came up with the brilliant name of IDesignNetwork—catchy, huh? We wanted to inspire and teach people to do home design and d├ęcor projects themselves, so that's what the I signified, and we chose Network because we knew we were going to be a web-based company.

We went to It's the biggest domain name registrar in the world, and sure enough, wasn't taken. All set! We registered it, printed business cards, and got ready to open for business.

Problem was, our attorneys didn't agree.

Even though we had registered, if anyone else was already using that name, even if they didn't own the dot com, they could potentially sue us. Come on, IDesignNetwork?! OK. Back to our search.

Every time we came up with a name, we would immediately check Go Daddy to see if there was a dot com. Nine point nine times out of 10, our brilliant idea was already taken. So we started grabbing any name we could think of and registering it before anyone else could—we’d grab the dot com first, think about it later. After all, each dot com only cost a few dollars.

So, what’s catchy? What words would set us apart? How would the name look in advertising? To give you an idea of how all over the map we were, how hard our brains were working, and how stymied we got, we were blowing through names like,, and Let me tell you, about $500 later we were still searching!

Finally, in frustration, we took a cue from the founders of Apple, who at the end of their own agonizing name search said that if they could not come up with a name by the following day, they would just name their company Apple. We said if we cannot come up with a name, we'll just name our company TheBrownChair. And you know what? The more we thought about it, hey,, that's kind of catchy! We like that! Let's get the dot com!

Can you believe was taken?

Four months later and counting, I decided to go back to the drawing board. OK, Cathy, think out of the box. We're not going to get any name that has home or decorating, they’re all taken.

I started just rattling off ideas. We're fun, we're inclusive, almost like a party, and we want to invite everybody to join in. Invitation, party, how about RSVP? And whatever we’re going to do, we're going to do with style. That’s it! RSVPstyle!

And guess what? We got the dot com, sent in for our trademark, and now, almost a year and a half later, we can officially use the magic trademark stamp. We're now truly legit and we have the mark to prove it.

After all that angst, I could honestly say I would give up my daughter's name before our company’s!