We're often asked whether adding a TM next to a name makes a difference, if the name owner has decided not to file for a trademark.
Yes! At the very least, once you are confident that you will go forward with your name, you should place a superscript TM to the upper right of your name – on your web site, on packaging, on your pitch deck, on the first mention in print – to assert your ownership of this name for these goods or services, even if you have no plans to ever file it as a trademark. This serves as a "hands-off" indication to others, who may be considering an identical or similar name, that you are savvy and serious about owning and defending your right to your name.
If you do decide to go through the trademark registration process and succeed, you’ll be able to replace the TM with the coveted circle-R, indicating that you now have a registered trademark. But even if you choose not to register, you will have claimed ownership of your name with the TM superscript, giving a clear signal to potential users of identical or similar names for identical or similar goods.