Your name is your brand. While we look at the mission God has given us in the terms of where we are going and what we are doing in the place God has put us, as humans we must also give the mission a name so we can communicate the vision. Naming a church is important, but its not the end of the world. Even after hundreds of years of history, a name can be changed to bring it in line with your mission and your branding. Here are two things to think about if you have not chosen the name of the church: (1) Avoid confusion in the location where you will be, and check for other similar names in the state. (2) Branding is more important than ever, so choose accordingly.
Confusion causes branding issues, and it can also cause trademark issues link in the future. It is ok to have the same name, but becoming the First Baptist Church of a small city in one state when there is a First Baptist Church in the same named city in another state can cause great confusion, and you may be stepping on the other church’s trademark. This is not always obvious when picking a name. A church not owning a dot.com domain name is not the only test because many older churches set up the dot.org websites when they originally formed. A quick search of the trademark site can direct you as to the names availability, and it can also let you know if you will be able to get a trademark in the future. If you have picked a name, go ahead and check it against this trademark list. It will let you know earlier than later if you are going to run into a problem. This way, you can fix it before you have spent thousands of dollars in branding, signage, or other expenses.
Branding your church is also very important. I am sure you know this, and may have even secured some Twitter or Snapchat names. This is a place you need to be proactive, and continue to be proactive. Make yourself the one and the only church on the Internet and social media that can always be found. If the name you want is taken, attempt to acquire the site or the name. In some circumstances, you can get a social network to release that name to you if you hold the trademark, which is one reason that is so important. Whatever you do, make them match as closely as possible in name and ways to be found. When you are picking a name, you want to look at branding and the legal side of things at the same time. I always ask these questions in this order:
1. Does someone else hold a trademark?
2. Could this name be trademarked?
3. Is the .com or the .church name available as a home domain website?
4. Are the bigger social sites available? At the time of writing, that would be Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but who knows what they will be in the future.
5. Are the lesser known social sites available?
These are the first branding and legal questions to work through to keep you from running into problems down the line with your church plant. Ask them early, and it will secure your name for a very long time to come.