Brainstorming names for your business? Here’s how to ideate, research, and register your dream business name.
May 27, 2021
5 min read
May 27, 2021
5 min read
One of the first steps you’ll take when starting a business is deciding on a name. Sometimes a creative business name can serve as the sole inspiration for a business idea. While a poorly-researched name can create a disconnect between potential customers and your business.
With such importance, it’s crucial to pick a quality name that’s not already in use to avoid any confusion with another business. On top of being best practice for building a unique brand, states also require filing for any new company name.
Whether you’re currently brainstorming a few names or think your name might cause confusion between you and a competitor, keep reading to learn what databases and registrations to check. We also list a few extra tips on building your brand and picking the right name., keep reading to learn what databases and registrations to check. We also list a few extra tips on building your brand and picking the right name.
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Is My Business Name Taken?
This question matters because by law, no two businesses within the same state may have the same name—and in some states, they can’t even be too similar.
For example, if your business is called “Sparkle Home Cleaning,” your state may keep other cleaning companies from registering under a similar name. This is because of licensing, advertising, trademark, and other legal issues that espouse when two different brands—whether competing or not—have essentially the same name.
In most states, you can find an online business entity check tool through the Secretary of State, Department of State, or Commonwealth.
Here are some examples of what the registrars will look like:
If you can't find an entity check tool through your Secretary of State, look for a Corporation Commission.
What Types of Registrations are There?
There are four types of business name registrations:
An entity name is what verifies your business at the state level—it is required to be recognized as an official business entity and to sell goods or services. Registering your entity name with your state will also protect your business from the undesired naming competition.
Once you’ve declared your business name and have certified it with your state, you should also secure it as your domain name.
A domain name is essentially the name of a website. It’s the portion a person types into the internet browser to land on a specific website. For example, if your business name is “The Best Plant Store Ever” then your domain name should be “thebestplantstoreever.com” or something very similar like “bestplantstore.com.”
Having your domain name match your business entity name professionalizes your company, helps avoid confusion, and instills trust in potential customers. If you’re building a website soon, check out these essential website features to get you started.
Trademarking your business name is useful when defending against copyright infringement at a national level. It’s especially important within a competitive industry or for larger enterprises and franchises.
DBA stands for “doing business as,” and refers to a business that operates under a name different from its entity name or the owner’s name. Before landing on a name for your company, it’s wise to check your region’s DBAs to see if one is already in use—even if it’s not registered as an entity name.
What Makes a Good Business Name?
When ideating names for your up-and-coming business, be sure to choose something unique. Not only will this help your business stand out, but an uncommon name is more likely to be approved when registering your name.
Spelling, punctuation, capitalization, pluralization, and certain grammar switches are not usually enough to make a name different from competitors. For example, “3 Great Contractors” is not different enough from “Three Great Contractors.”
It’s also beneficial to choose a name that reflects what your business is all about. “Best Plant Store Ever” may not be the best business name, but the nature of the business is clear.
One last thing to keep in mind when finalizing your name is searchability. While it may be perfectly legal and relevant to name your bookstore “Amazin Books,” you can probably see why this would be a bad idea. If somebody typed that into Google, you bet the first thing to come up would be a suggestion for Amazon Books.
All in all, you want to choose a business name while considering your brand and your competitors. Once you have it, you’re ready to register and run your business.
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