Planning to launch some kind of project and set up a business, you certainly have some kind of entrepreneurial idea in your head. And just like you choose a name for a baby, you’ll pick a name for your business creation too. A name for a venture is more than a random combo of words or letters. It’s a starting point for a big journey, and a properly selected business name does make difference. It can boost up your enterprise growth and contribute to the right company image on the market. So, the desire to save the chosen business name for your venture is natural. The name registration can help you out with that. In our article below, we’ll explain in detail how to register a business name.
What Is a Business Name?
Broadly, it’s a name you give to your enterprise, under which it’s known to the general public, your primary customers, and the rest of the target audience. It will also differentiate your organization from competitors and establish a strong connection between what you are doing and the brand you seek to create.
Business names are often considered identical to company ones. And it’s true for corporations and LLCs. These are incorporated business forms that can be also referred to as companies. Meanwhile, unregistered business types are not companies technically. However, the term “business name” is applicable to any type of entity structure, be it a formal or informal one.
In some contexts, a business name is also used as a synonym to a fictitious or trading and in contrast to a legal entity one. Yet, in practice, you can conduct business under a name different from that you’ve used for registering your entity, which is a legal or registered one. And this is where you’ll use a trading or fictitious name. At the same time, you can use a single moniker for all purposes if you wish. It’s up to you to decide. However, it should be clearly stated and demonstrated to the public whether you have a different trading name to avoid any confusion and misunderstanding.
Rules for Naming a Business
What is a good business name? Well, in a word, it’s the one that speaks for itself and relates to your major activity or maintains your principal business goals while being legal and matching the law requirements set forth to business names:
- A rule of thumb is that a moniker shouldn’t be similar to or even resemble any existing registered or trademarked name, which means it should sound and look differently;
- It should be free from any rude, humiliating, offensive, or offputting words. And it should by no means hurt or disrespect the interests, beliefs, or convictions of social, political, religious, and other groups;
- An ordinary business name cannot contain any references to the state bodies, governmental agencies, and financial institutions unless you have special permission for that;
- Mind to check the naming requirements specific to the state and the structure. Thus, LLCs and corporations are obliged to include an identifier into the company name while for unregistered business forms, Inc. and LLC tags are taboo.
To help you create an eligible business moniker that will be also interesting, functional, and efficient, we have a few helpful naming tips at hand:
- A business name should be meaningful. While acronyms and abbreviations are welcomed, they should be easy to guess and decipher. Otherwise, no one will remember that moniker;
- Create simple and short yet catchy and original names. Not only are they memorable but also they are great for corresponding domain names;
- Set a connection with your brand and its activity. A good moniker gives a quick understanding of what stands behind your entity or its major fortes and distinctive benefits;
- Don’t overdo it. While using foreign words or extraordinary word combos is a good idea to make your enterprise name stand out, don’t go overboard. Avoid too tricky bundles, as well as too long and complex words.
Business Name Registration Methods
Basically, you can register a business name in one of three methods. Yet, there are several standard steps you’ll have to take before choosing the registration method anyway:
- Make sure the version you’ve set your eyes on is in full compliance with valid naming rules and doesn’t breach any state- or business-specific requirements;
- Do the name search. Essential for all entity types, this search is a must for incorporated business forms since your application will be simply rejected by the state should it appear that your desired moniker name is not unique. The same is true for trademarks and DBAs. All appropriate name search tools are usually available for free on the websites of state and government authorities. Finally, you can also navigate through the web to monitor existing business and brand monikers;
- Reserve a business name. This option is of use for entities on the verge of business formation. By putting a selected version on hold, you’ll have time to finish the preparation process while resting assured no one will steal that name from you;
- Check the domain name. In the era of the Internet and digital business space, online presence is vital for any enterprise, be it a small home project or a national corporation. Yet, a unique business moniker is not necessarily a unique domain name. So, you’d better check the website name availability in advance to solidify your future online presence.
When all checks, reviews, and verifications are done, you can proceed to the name registration itself. And you’ll have the following alternatives here.
Establishing a Legal Entity
If you run a sole proprietorship or a partnership and want both to bring your company to the next level and get more protection for your business moniker, you can file a limited liability company or a corporation. This way, you’ll reserve this name for your company in the state of formation and will be able to apply for a foreign qualification in any other state.
Filing a DBA Name
This option is available for registered and unregistered entity types alike and allows conducting activities under different names. The best thing is that you can register as many DBAs for a single enterprise as you need. This way, you can easily expand your activity to other states or launch several brands under the roof of the same legal entity. In the meantime, each filed DBA will be unique in the state of its registration.
Trademarks offer the highest level of protection to business names at a national level. If you target to give your brand a national presence and seek to expand your entity across the states, trademarking your moniker is the best alternative. Though this registration method is the most complicated and entangles many formalities, you can be sure that no other entity across the country will use your business name.