Aside from determining what products or services you’re going to offer, deciding what to name your business is one of the very first, and most creative, steps that a new business owner will undertake. It should be distinctive and memorable, and it should suggest the products and services you offer. However, choosing what to name your business is more than just a fun exercise in wordplay. A truly great name not only communicates what your business does, it also paves the way to an effective marketing strategy, and provides the foundation for important legal protections. Here are some of the issues to keep in mind as you decide what to name your business.

First, it’s important to distinguish between a trade name and a trademark. A trade name, also called a “doing business as” name, or “DBA,” is the legal alias under which your company does business. Having a registered trade name what is allows your customers to legally refer to you by that name and what allows you to participate in transactions using your business’ name instead of your own. A trademark, on the other hand, is used to protect your brand by associating a particular producer with a particular good or service. It may also be associated with, or the same as, your trade name. Given that your name is one of your most valuable business assets, it’s worth protecting with a trademark.

Take the time to consider legal issues when naming your business.

Trademark Issues to Consider When You Name Your Business

Trade Name Issues to Consider When You Name Your Business

  • If you intend to form a business entity, state law may dictate some aspects of your name. Most commonly, if you form a business entity you may be required to include an identifier such as “Corp.” or “LLC” after your business’s name. You may also be restricted from using words that imply a government affiliation, such as “commission” or “bureau,” or you may need to meet certain requirements to use words that are reserved for certain industries, like “bank” or “trust.” State guidelines can typically be found on the website for the agency that handles business registrations.
  • Don’t pick a name that may be confused with the name of another business or a competitor. State law may also preclude you from registering a name that is too similar to that of another business or that is likely to mislead the public. But even if you don’t plan on creating a business entity, picking a name that is too similar or the same as an existing business could potentially land you on the wrong end of a trademark or copyright infringement lawsuit. Lastly, picking a unique name for your business will also help to distinguish you from your competitors and ensure that you stand out in the marketplace.
  • Pick a name that will live comfortably on the web. Your business will almost certainly have a website, and may also participate in a wide variety of social media sites. Your name should be memorable, but be easy to spell and pronounce so your customers can easily find you and talk about you online. Before committing to a name, you should also make sure that the name, or a logical variation on it, is available as both as a domain name and as user names on the social media sites on which you will be promoting your business.

Do you still have questions about how to name your business? Let us clear them up. Simply email us or give us a call and we can discuss the many services we offer that can help you avoid investing time and money building a business around the wrong name.

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