The name of your company stated in the registration documents is a legal name that will eventually appear in all official and regulatory paperwork. It’s a sort of legal identifier for your business entity that makes it distinguishable for government authorities and financial institutions, as well as for potential customers, suppliers, and partners. Yet, businesses often choose to operate on the market under names different from their legal names. These are so-called DBA names or fictitious names. Companies usually use them for marketing purposes when building their own brand to create a unique company image and confidently stand out among their rivals. At some point, though, you might want to change a DBA name. How to replace your current business name with another one? In our article, you’ll find out everything you should know about this process and how to realize it.
Reasons for Changing a DBA Name
DBA (doing business as) or fictitious names are widely used in the modern business environment for positioning and promotional purposes. Besides, such entities as LLCs and corporations might run different businesses under the roof of the same legal structure and DBAs allow creating a separate market profile for each activity. However, a DBA name is not something that stays with your company for good. You can replace it with another name if necessary. Commonly, there are several main reasons why entrepreneurs choose to change their DBAs.
Most often, DBA name change is called to reflect essential changes in the overall business. If you swap for another business activity or expand your existing venture with more business lines, you need to change the name to match the scope of your enterprise. The same is true for when you expand your business to other locations or introduce new products and services and your current business name doesn’t reflect what you are doing anymore.
Yet another reason for replacing your DBA with a new one is rebranding. By totally changing the marketing strategy and refurbishing your business image with a new name, logo, and style, you can give your brand a boost and bring it to a new level. Besides, this way, you can target a new audience and attract new groups of customers.
Finally, if your company has been drawn into or become a part of a lawsuit and this situation has had a negative impact on your business reputation, by using a new DBA, you can give a start to a new business image.
Steps to Change Your DBA Name
DBAs are usually registered at local and state levels. As a result, rules and regulations for amending a DBA name can vary by state. In most cases, though, those differences will rather appear in details while a standard procedure remains the same. Basically, the DBA name change process consists of two stages. The first one is the official registration of the name change. And the second step is updating your business info.
Registering a DBA Change
To amend your existing business name and replace it with a new DBA, you’ll have to take the following actions:
- Do a Name Search: That’s a step you take both when registering a new name, filing yet another DBA, or replacing the current fictitious moniker. You should make sure the name version you target is not used by any other entity in the locality where you apply for the change. To check the name availability, you can navigate a local or state entities database accessible via the Business Search Tool on the official website of your state or local department.
- Fill in Appropriate Paperwork: Some states allow businesses to register DBA amendments while others require filing a new DBA registration. No matter the case, it’s done via filing special forms normally downloadable via websites of the county or state authorities.
- File the Filled Forms: Similar to a DBA registration, a DBA name change is a payable service. Filing fees again vary by state. Most states allow submitting the form and paying the fee online while others call for mailing documents along with the payment confirmation. In a few states, though, you’ll have to hand in the documents and payment cheques in person.
- Inform Your DBA Name Change to the Public: This is where regulatory requirements greatly vary. Thus, most often, you will need to publish a notification of your new DBA either in a local newspaper. However, there are states that also require that you make a publication about invalidating your current DBA.
Before you delve into the above registration process, we strongly recommend that you review DBA name change rules valid in your state or county not to miss anything.
Your DBA Info Update
When you’ve filed your DBA name change, it’s only half of the whole process. In fact, you’ve finished only the official part. The other part covers a few more tasks that are highly important for your future business operation:
- Let your bank know about your DBA name change. Though banks use your company’s legal name for transactions, they will still require a new DBA registration to make your checks payable;
- Inform all your permanent customers, vendors, partners, and suppliers about your business name change so that they could easily spot your company among competitors;
- The most important task to make after you get a new DBA for your business is to reflect the change in all your marketing materials and anywhere a DBA name comes up. You’ll have to change your business logo, letterheads, advertising materials, brand design, etc. Though taking some fuss, this will give your brand a new life.