When you start a business there are a few things you need to do; set up a business entity, conduct market research, get federal and state tax ID numbers, etc, etc.
You also need to choose a name.
Over the past few months I’ve gotten a crash course on the importance of choosing the right name for your business. Why? Because if you choose the wrong name it can be very expensive, time consuming, and demoralizing.
How do you know when you’ve chosen the right name for your business? I’m not sure.
How do you know when you’ve chosen the wrong name for your business? I know with 100% certainty.
When I was 24 and quit my job to try and change the automotive industry with my dad, I was wide-eyed, naive, and pretty “green” when it came to starting a business. Even though I had founded a company during my freshman year of college, there was plenty I still didn’t know. My dad counseled me as best he could, and he certainly helped me navigate around many challenges and obstacles.
That being said, he and I both missed one big thing … When we broke ground on our website and YouTube channel there was another business operating under the “Your Auto Advocate” name.
Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Zach, tons of businesses have the same name, that shouldn’t have stopped you from using ‘Your Auto Advocate’.”
That’s a really fair statement, and this is where my crash course in finding the right business name began. Two (or more) businesses can operate with the same name (and frequently do). However, what you can’t do (legally) is operate a business that infringes on another business's trademark (especially a federal trademark).
Sign number one you’ve chosen the wrong business name; there’s a federal trademark on it.
When my dad and I chose the name “Your Auto Advocate” in December of 2019, there were no trademarks registered on the name, however that changed at the end of 2020.
When we became aware we knew that we’d have to pivot, but before we did, we reached out to the mark holder. We did what you’d expect, and negotiated an agreement that allows us to continue to use the “Your Auto Advocate” name. Fortunately, we can continue to use the name until the agreement ends. At that point we’ll need to remove all references to “Your Auto Advocate”.
Sadly, that means our YouTube videos will be deleted once the agreement is over. It’s unfortunate. We have nearly 500 videos and livestreams that we’ve produced under the “Your Auto Advocate” name. It’s painful to know that each of those videos will need to be removed — not because the content won’t be online (my dad and I plan to film updated versions of all of the educational topics and organize them more effectively!) — but because my kids and their kids and their kids’ kids won’t be able to watch those videos. There are so many moments my dad and I were able to capture, and I’m deeply saddened to know that they won’t be online once our agreement ends.
But that’s life for you. There are ups and downs at every turn. My dad and I have been through a lot together — much worse things than this — and every time we have persevered and come out stronger on the other side. I have full confidence that we’ll do the same now.
That explains the impetus that led us to change our name, but why did we land on “YAA”, and what does it mean? Well, it was pretty simple. We had two objectives:
- Come up with a name that is not specific to cars/vehicles/automotive (more on that below); and
- Have something short, sweet, and memorable.
Pretty straightforward, eh?
If you go back and watch our videos you’ll quickly realize that we frequently refer to ourselves as “YAA”. Even as my dad and I put (crazy) name ideas in a spreadsheet, we kept coming back to asking one another “Why don’t we just change the name to ‘YAA’?”
YAA certainly is short and sweet. Is it memorable? Time will only tell.
Our other criteria was that we wanted the name to not be specific to automotive. Why? Because YAA has the potential to be so much more than just advocacy for autos, we see a future where we can advocate for our members across a variety of industries. If you’ve read our manifesto, you know that our mission is to simplify and bring peace of mind to the entire auto experience. Who’s to say we can’t do the same for other complex purchases and problems? Being a part of YAA means being a part of an empowered lifestyle, and we see a future where we can do more than just empower your automotive experience.
So what does YAA stand for then?
My dad had the brilliant idea that YAA would be an acronym for “Your Advocate Alliance.” When you really think about it, that’s what YAA was, is, and always will be. We’re like minded people that share the same vision; to empower one another and advocate for what is right.
So there you have it. That’s why we changed our name.
It goes without saying that the past few months have been stressful at times, but like we’ve always done, we persevered and got through it. We’re excited for what the future holds for YAA, and we’re committed to building something meaningful that has a positive impact on society. Thank you for reading this and for supporting us. I am humbled and appreciative of your involvement in our movement.