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How to Choose and Register Your Business Name

August 3, 2022
Phil Cohen

How to Name Your New Business

Picking a name for your business is an important and fun step in the startup process. The business name must go along with your ideas for your brand as well as catch the attention of potential customers. Once you choose a business name, you must register your business legally to ensure long-term protection. The US Small Business Administration outlines a few factors to consider when choosing a name for your business.

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Steps to Take When Creating a Business Name:

  1. Visualize how your name will look. Think about your name as a part of a logo, on social media and on your website. Is it visually appealing? Will it draw customers in?
  2. Know the meaning of your name. Is your name professional? Will customers understand the meaning? Does it reflect your businesses culture?
  3. Choose a unique name. Do research to make sure someone else has not already trademarked your business name. Also, check the web and make sure the domain is still available for website and social media use. Use this trademark tool to check the US database of previously registered trademarks.
  4.  Choose a fun and innovative business name. First impressions are everything. When choosing your business name, be sure that it’s creative and depending on your industry, fun. While picking a name can be a fun and exciting process, be sure not to choose a name that is too trendy or one that will turn off potential investors.
  5. Use business name generators. There are tons of online resources to help you pick a name for your startup. After you brainstorm, these tools can give you new ideas, and expand on existing ideas, for new combinations of the keywords you have chosen. Avoid asking family and friends for advice on your business name as it’s best to test within your target audience. Some tools to use include:

6. Perform an A/B test. Choose two or more potential names for your business and test them within your target audience. You can use a site such as Leadpages to build multiple landing pages           with your options for business names and test the traffic to see which name performs the best.

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Mistakes to Watch Out for When Coming Up with a Business Name

Choosing a business name can be a difficult task, maybe you just can’t think of that catchy phrase that will draw customers in.

There are a few common mistakes when picking a business name that you should avoid:

  1.  Avoid using plain words: Try to use words that will stand out in the crowd rather than plain words used during your everyday life. Unique words are memorable. Customers will not only remember your business name but they will tell their friends about it, increasing your chance for word of mouth advertising which is free and very effective.
  2. Do not use a cliché for your business name: Clichés can be tacky and are often overused. Try to think of a unique name for your startup and if you must use a cliché, some are okay when applicable.
  3. Do not use a name that leaves customers confused: It’s great to have a name that is unique but make sure it makes sense to customers. As stated earlier, it’s good to have a name that’s meaningful and speaks to your company’s culture, but if the name takes a lot of explaining for customers to understand, you should probably consider other options.
  4. Avoid using your personal name within the business name. If something were to go wrong with your business you don’t want to jeopardize your personal reputation as well. A simple Google search of your personal name could bring up negative facts or events about your company that happened years’ prior, which is why it’s best not to include your personal name within your business name.
  5. Do not choose a lengthy business name. Keep your startup name short and to the point. Having too long of a name will be difficult for people to remember and can be a hassle when creating your website.
  6. Do not include a hyphen in your business name. According to the Wharton School of Business, having a hyphen in the domain name, which should be similar if not the same as the business name, can lower a website’s rank by almost 3%.

Registering Your Business Name

After you’ve picked a name for your new business you must legally register and trademark it. This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” or DBA name. Unless you change it, when forming a business, the name automatically defaults to the name of the person who owns the business. If you want to change it, you must register a DBA name. DBAs are required for sole proprietors or partnerships, who wish to operate under a different name than their existing name, and existing corporations or LLCs who wish to operate under a different name.

Where to register your ‘Doing Business As’ Name

Depending on where your business is located, you must register your business name at either the county clerk’s office or with the state government. There are a few states who do not require the registration of a DBA name so be sure to check specifically with your state. To register within your state government, you may have to register as a corporation, a nonprofit organization or an LLC or partnership. The US Small Business Administration has a list of every state’s requirements on their website.

Registering Your Name as a Trademark

Trademarking your business name is not required by law but is a good idea to protect your name from being used by anyone else. Although another business may not be able to use your exact name, trademarking will keep them from using something so similar that it will confuse your customers. To trademark across the US, you must file an application with the US Patent and Trademark Offices. The US Patent and Trademark Office’s website has more information on trademarking such as FAQs, basic facts and an overview of the process.

Choosing and registering your name is an important step in starting your own business. The next few steps in the process include choosing your business location and getting all the necessary licenses and permits.

Additional resources for starting a business:

What is accounts receivable factoring?

How does factoring work for a startup?

How do I estimate my business startup costs?

How to write a small business plan 

Go Back to Our Startup Series Page

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