As you get your business started, you might find yourself obsessing about the little things like the exact shade of green for your website header. However, nailing down your brand is an important tool for success when the market is full of businesses trying to make their mark. Choosing your business name is a process, which is why we’ve put together an outline!
1. Make a List
Never underestimate the power of brainstorming and making a great list! First, find a few options you and your partners enjoy. Next, think about how you would use the name for social media handles and websites. Check to see if those handles and domains are taken. If it’s all clear, try out your favorites on your family and friends and gauge their reactions.
2. A Time for Reflection
Sit with your name (or names) for a while. Buyer’s remorse is a real burden, but if your name can stand the test of time it might just be the one. Hopefully, your business partners will agree on “the one.” Otherwise, it might mean another round of brainstorming and whiteboards.
3. Consult With Your County Clerk
Your local county clerk or Secretary of State should have a publically available list of assumed or fictitious business names. Check your possible names against this list and ensure you do not have any conflicts.
4. Consult With Registration Laws
If you are an unincorporated business, you may be required to register your enterprise with state or local organizations. Look up local and state laws regarding business registration and register your business if appropriate. If you are not sure what registration laws apply to your business, consult with an attorney.
5. Check With the Secretary of State
If you intend to incorporate your business or if you are already incorporated, you need to check with the Secretary of State’s office to check your name against registered enterprises. If your name is identical or confusingly similar to an existing corporation’s name, you will have to select another option.
6. State Trademark Protection and Registration
Regardless if you intend to incorporate, you may benefit from trademark protections, which you receive after registering your name. If you want to register for trademark protections in your state, ask your attorney to do a trademark search for similar names. Afterwards, your lawyer can file the registration on your behalf. You may also opt to complete the search and registration filing yourself.
7. Federal Trademark Protection and Registration
Do you believe you would benefit from national trademark protection and registration? If you plan to expand your business across state lines, you may want to register your trademark at the federal level. Perform the same search and registration steps as with your state registration.
8. Register Your Domain
After you have searched high and low for similar names and trademarks, you can finally register your domain name knowing it is unique, catchy and right for your enterprise. Don’t forget you’ll have to renew the domain registration periodically.
9. Get Your Promotional Materials
In case you didn’t know, branding is crucial, especially in the beginning. Now that your trademarks are registered and your website is good to go, it’s time to order your business cards, company pens, signs, ads and anything else you may need.
10. Start Operations
You’ve got a domain name, registered trademark and promotional materials, so what does that mean? You’re ready for business! Open your doors and start handing out those Frisbees and pens with your company logo.
If you use this guide in conjunction with your attorney’s help, you’ll be able to pick the right name for your business. Enjoy the brainstorming process with your business partners, and get ready to order a company logo!
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.