Choosing a Business Name: What You Need to Know
Things to Keep in Mind
First and foremost, the name of your business should reflect what it is that you do. For example, Bob’s Plumbing clearly implies that the company provides plumbing services. Bob Smith, Inc. could be a company that does anything, and customers will likely move on to someone else if they have to take the time to figure it out. The name of your business should be easy to pronounce and should distinguish you from your competition. It should also sound pleasant when said aloud and should look impactful when written.
What to Avoid When Picking a Name
It is important to do research about other businesses in your area that provide the same goods or services as your business. Choosing a name that is similar to an already existing business can result in confusion. While it is a good idea to imply what it is your business does, if you plan on expanding your operations in the future, you may want to keep it general. The same concept applies for geographical designations. Including the name of your town may make people think that your business is limited only to that area. Lastly, the name of your business should not be too long, and it should not make people have to figure it out. Sometimes proprietors come up with what they think is a clever play on words, but in reality it just confuses people.
Seeing If Your Name Is Available
It is a good to take the time to do some extensive research to ensure that the name you want to use is not already taken by another business. An online search or a quick look through your local phone book is a good place to start. If there is another business in your area using the name you want, you should be able to uncover it relatively easily. Next, in order to dig deeper, you may want to conduct a search through your state or county’s database of all the business names that it has registered. A business with a similar name may still cause problems for you even if it is on the other side of the state. Finally, the federal government maintains a database of all business names that have been trademarked, so you may want to search there as well. If the name you have chosen does come up in any of your searches, you should have a few alternatives picked out as backup.
Making Sure Your Name Is Web-Ready
These days, very few businesses exist that don’t have a website of some kind. If you plan to have a website that customers can visit, you will also want to do some research on available domain names before you settle on a name for your business. If the domain you planned to use is already taken or there is a very similar sounding one for a business like yours, you may wish to pick a different name for your company. In addition, many companies have integrated social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter into their company’s marketing plans. It may be a good idea to check social media sites to see if the name or handle you want to use is already taken or if there are similar ones out there that could be confused for your business.
Registering Your Business Name
Once you have whittled down your choices and finally selected the name you want to go with, you will need to register it. Typically, business name registrations are done through your state’s government. Some businesses choose to use a fictitious name, which is a name that is different from the legal name of your company. For instance, your company may legally be named 123 Main Street, LLC., but the sign on the door to your store says Gifts Galore. In that case, you would also need to register the fictitious name with the proper governmental entity. In addition, some companies opt to trademark their names as additional protection from infringement and to solidify their brands. Trademarks can be obtained on both the state and federal levels.
Choosing a name for your business can be an exciting but stressful process. Understanding what to look for and what pitfalls to avoid can leave you assured that you have made the right name choice.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.