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October 28, 2019

Naming Your Business

Many entrepreneurs associate the first steps of building their business with choosing a name. For some, it’s been floating around in their mind for years. For others, they have a hard time pinpointing something that feels right.

Whether you’ve got it figured out or have no idea where to begin, it’s always a good idea to go back to the basics. Here are some tips for choosing a strong company name and protecting it from others.

Start at the Company’s Core

Identifying your company values and mission is a great place to start when it comes to naming your business. You should think about what your company stands for, who you serve, and how you’re different from competitors. Each of these should be factored into the name.

Consider answering the following questions:

  • How do we want people to feel when they hear the name?
  • What do we want people to think when they hear the name?
  • What should our name communicate?
  • What do our competitors’ names mean, and how can we be different?
  • Will our company name be short and easy or unique and different?

Avoid Acronyms

As important as it is to be memorable, you don’t want to take the wordplay strategy too far. You want potential customers to be able quickly find you online, so using an easily confused acronym should be avoided.

Being a small business, you want your company name to clearly communicate who you are, and usually, an acronym won’t get you there. You simply don’t have the marketing resources or time to spread brand awareness and education on what the acronym stands for.

Stay Small and Proud

It’s great that you have aspirations to serve global markets. However, incorporating these ambitions into the company’s name likely isn’t realistic. You’re a small business—a local expert. It’s why your customers want to work with or visit you.

By attaching a “global” or “enterprise” adjective to appear bigger than you are can backfire. Keep your name true to your local market to attract nearby, loyal customers.

Do Your Homework

Finding the perfect name only to discover it’s already claimed by another company can be a major setback. Not only could you have hurdles trying to get your business off the ground, but you could also be infringing on others’ trademarks. However, your company name can be similar to another if it’s in a completely different industry or market.

Your state has a secretary of state or a similar agency that maintains business filings. Each state’s organization has an online search tool so you can see if another company is already using the name you’re thinking about. Do a quick search before you start printing business cards and signage.

Think About Spelling

Just as you want to be careful with acronyms and “cute” names, you also want to be cautious of commonly misspelled words. If a customer Googles your name and they spell the company wrong, they may never find you.

Look at your list of options to ensure none of them have alternate spellings or could be misspelled. Make sure your company name is easy to spell and remember.

Register Your Name

Once you land upon a name after following the previous tips, it’s time to register the company name. You want to protect your hard work so that when other entrepreneurs are doing their homework, you have nothing to worry about.

When you submit the company name to the official state registry, you can go about it three ways:

  1. File a DBA – DBA, or Doing Business As, is a way to register the operating name, not the legal name, of a business. If you have a sole proprietorship, you can have the option to register the official name or a DBA. Some states require DBAs in order to protect its consumers.
  2. Determine a business structure – You’ll need to decide if your company structure, like a corporation or an LLC. When you register your business’ structure, you’re also filing your company name with the state’s registry.
  3. Register a trademark – If you trademark your company name and register it with the state, you’ll receive the highest level of protections if another company wants to use your name.

No matter how you approach it, registering your new name with the state ensures its protected from being used by another up and coming company.

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