A company’s name is more than just a name—it’s a critical brand asset.
Your business name wields more power than you might expect.
- It differentiates your company from others.
- When customers see or hear it for the first time, they might immediately form an impression of your company—one that might lead them to find out more or drive them away.
Choosing the right business name requires thought and research. Not only is it important to brainstorm a name that will serve your company well, but it is also imperative to conduct a corporate name search to make sure you have rights to use the name.
How to Choose a Business Name
When selecting a name for your company, think about how you want your brand to be perceived. Although the name alone won’t drive your brand reputation, it can influence how people feel about it at face value.
Ask yourself the following questions as you consider business names. As you answer them, this exercise can help you home in on a name that will best satisfy what’s most important to you.
- What vibe do you want your business name to project? Trendy, high tech, fun, trustworthy…? Think about not only the products and services your business will offer but also the company culture upon which you’ll build your brand. Which name choices reflect your company best?
- Is the name descriptive? Sometimes it may make the most sense to use a name that informs people upfront what your business offers. (e.g., Melville Soap Company or Maddox and Fry Business Coaching)
- Is the name overly complex? Selecting a name that’s difficult to recall could spell trouble for your brand. If people have a hard time remembering it or they misspell it when trying to find it online, you could miss out on potential business opportunities.
- Could the name have a negative connotation? Beware of cultural and social sensitivities when selecting a business name. If the name you choose hits a nerve (even if unintentional) because it offends or alienates people, it could set your brand up for failure.
- Does the name have staying power? Think about your goals for your company. If you intend to sell one category of products now but plan to offer a more diverse selection in the future, will your business name still make sense?
Besides relying on your own instincts and opinions when brainstorming a business name, consider also asking for feedback from people in your target market and trusted advisors.
How to Do a Corporate Name Search
After you have chosen your business name, you will want to check to make sure it hasn’t already been taken by another company. Doing a corporate name search to confirm its availability will help you avoid the headaches and cost of trying to register your company with a name that you can’t legally use.
Our Corporate Name Search tool provides a free way to research the availability of a business name. You’ll find using it is quite simple. Just enter:
- The name you would like to call your business
- The state where your business will be based
- The business entity type—LLC, S Corporation, C Corporation, Non-profit Corporation, Professional Corporation, or DBA (i.e., as a fictitious name for a Sole Proprietor, Partnership, or corporation—your business name will be associated with
Using this information, our agents search the appropriate state databases to verify a name’s availability.
How to Protect Your Business Name
After you’ve verified your desired business name is available, you’ll want to claim it and make sure other companies that offer similar products and services cannot use it. Multiple options are available to help protect you and your new business.
File a DBA
When entrepreneurs aren’t quite ready to incorporate or form an LLC, they may file to register a name as a DBA (“Doing Business As”)—also known as a fictitious name—in the state(s) where they will conduct business. This makes it legal for them to market their business under that name, but it may only offer limited protection of the name.
Form an LLC or Incorporate
When an LLC (Limited Liability Company) is formed or a business is incorporated, its name automatically becomes protected within the state in which it is registered. No other LLC or corporation in the same line of business may use that company’s name. Realize, however, that a business using the name as a DBA in the state has the legal right to do so. Also, businesses in other states may use the name.
Reserve a Business Name
If a company isn’t ready to officially form an LLC or incorporate, it can file with the Secretary of State’s office to order a business name reservation. Doing so, temporarily prevents the name from being taken by another business. Typically, a name can be held for between 30 to 90 days— the exact reservation period depends upon the state’s rules. When the reservation period expires, the name once again becomes available to others who may want to claim it for their businesses.
Apply for a Trademark
Filing for a registered trademark from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers the most protection for a business name. Trademark protection applies to use of the business name in all 50 states in the U.S.
In addition to our Corporate Name Search tool, CorpNet also has a free Trademark Search tool you can use to help determine if your name is available.
How CorpNet Can Help
After you use our Corporate Name Search tool to verify that your business name is available, CorpNet can also help you:
- Reserve your business name to put it on hold as you prepare to register your business.
- Register your corporate name by filing the documentation your state’s Secretary of State office requires to form your LLC or incorporate your business
- Search and apply for a trademark to protect your business name in all 50 United States.
Contact us today to get started!