Back To Articles

Choosing A Suitable Name For Your Business

By: Start Your Brand

November 11, 2014

Choosing a suitable name for your brand is one of the most important steps in the startup process. Just like the focus, you want your name to be completely different from all other brands. Your name is the first thing your customers will see and hear, so you want to make sure it is something catchy and recognizable.

When deciding on which name to choose, the first thing that comes to mind is the trademark/ brand name, or the name that will be featured on your products. But what many people fail to realize is that you must come up with two names for your company. These two names are the business name, and the trademark. This is very important because there is a huge difference between these two types of names.

  • Business Name: Is the legal name that identifies your business as an entity; this name will be displayed on all of your tax forms, contracts, and other formal documents. Generally, your business name is different due to which type of business structure you decide to choose. Registering your business name provides no protection for your trademark/ brand name.
    • DBA “Doing Business As”: The name in which your business operates under; also known as a fictitious name or trade name. If you choose to have a name that is anything different from your own personal name, the name of your partner(s), or the official registered name of your LLC or Corporation, you must register a DBA with your county clerk's office, or your state government. There are a few states that do not require a DBA registration.
    • Do You Need A DBA?:
      • Sole Proprietorships/ Partnerships: If you choose to have a name that is anything different from your own personal name, or the name of your partner(s), you must register a DBA.
      • Corporations/LLC's: If you have an existing Corporation or LLC, and you would like to conduct business under a different name without terminating the business, you must register a DBA.
  • Trademark: Or brand name, is the name that will be featured on all of your products. Trademarks include words, phrases, pictures, logos, or symbols. In order to claim all rights for your mark, you must apply for a trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or with your State Secretary.

Read more about trademarks here.

Ex. You created a Limited Liability Company with a legal business name of John Doe LLC - You would however like to operate under a different name without terminating the LLC, such as 'John Doe'. In this case you would file for a DBA in order to have a 'fictitious' business name - DBA's act as an alias for your legal business name. You are also considering on using a different brand name for your products, so you decide to use JD™:

  • Business Name: John Doe LLC
  • DBA: John Doe
  • Trademark: JD™

Your main focus right now should be the trademark, or the name that will be featured on all of your products. You can decide on the proper business name when you decide on which business structure to file under. If you are having troubles deciding on the proper brand name, try thinking outside of the box. The name should revolve around your initial focus, so you should have a general idea of what type of name you are looking for. Try thinking of different ways to spell a certain word/ phrase, or even use a different language. You can also use a name set up in an acronym form, such as ‘LRG - Lifted Research Group’.

Keep in mind, your brand name CANNOT be similar to another party's brand name. If you create a name that is "confusingly similar", you may be infringing on another party's trademark. Trademark infringement is a serious case, and can result in lawsuits against your company or even the termination of your business. It is imperative that you avoid trademark infringement at all costs, and create a completely new brand name for your company.

Want to learn more about naming your business? Check out this awesome article posted on the SBA website!