Naming Your Business – 3 Steps to a Great Business Name

– [Presenter] Coming
up with a business name is one of the most important
steps in forming a business. Your name affects your branding
and your image as a company. Let’s get you started on the right path to picking a solid business name. In this video, we will go
over how to name your business based on your business structure, branding and brainstorming business names, and how to check your name’s availability. Be sure to ask yourself the seven essential questions we provide before you make this
critical business decision. (gentle music) One, choose a business structure. You’ll need to determine your company’s business
structure before deciding a name as different business structures have different naming requirements. There are formal business structures like LLCs and corporations, and informal business structures like sole proprietorships
and general partnerships. In this first section, we’ll talk about the naming
requirements of each. Informal business structures. If you are operating under
a sole proprietorship, your company must operate
under the surname of the owner. In order to use a different name, the owner must file a
DBA or Doing Business As, also known as an assumed name, fictitious name, or trade name. General partnerships are
similar to sole proprietorships with the difference
being that partnerships consist of two or more people. A general partnership’s name must consist of the surnames
of all the partners. Like a sole proprietorship, if you want to operate
under a different name, you need to file for a DBA. LLC or limited liability companies. If your company is an LLC, your name must include the
phrase Limited Liability Company or one of its abbreviations, LLC or L.L.C. with the period
in between each letter. Restricted words such as bank, attorney, law office, et cetera, may require additional paperwork and may also need a licensed professional to be part of the LLC. Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC
with a government agency, such as FBI, Treasury,
or State Department. Corporations. If your business is a
corporation or a C-corp, your name must include
the words corporation, company, incorporated, limited, or an abbreviation of any of these. When choosing your business structure, you may hear the term S-Corp which isn’t actually a business structure but a type of tax structure
used by an LLC or corporation. If your business is taxed as an S-Corp, follow your state’s naming requirements for the business structure you chose. For all business structures, your name must be distinguishable from other existing
businesses in your state. A couple examples of names
not being distinguishable would be Auto Store Inc.
versus Auto Store LLC. The only difference in the
name is the business structure. Changing the words the, an, or a in front of your business name does not make it distinguishable. For example, The Auto Store Inc., Auto Store Inc, and An Auto Inc. are not distinguishable from each other. Using an ampersand instead
of and or vice versa, such as Smith and Smith,
is not different enough from Smith & Smith using an ampersand. Your business name can’t have
words that sound identical to another business with
a different spelling. Boys Inc. with an S and Boyz Inc. with a Z
are not distinguishable. Two, branding and brainstorming. When picking your business name, you’ll also want to consider whether your legal business
name will be your brand name or if you will have a separate brand name. Your legal name is what is listed on
your formation documents. This includes words required based on your business structure such as LLC, Corp, or Company. Your brand name is the name
you use to market your company and the name that clients
and customers see and use. When deciding what to name your business, decide on your branding strategy
using these three options. Do you want your business’s legal name to also be your brand name,
such as Tiffany and Co.? Do you want your legal business name to be different from your brand name? Hewlett Packard is HP. Do you want to have a legal business name and several different brand names? Gap Inc. is their legal business
name, but their brand names are Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic. While you’re thinking about
how to brand your business, start brainstorming some business names. You should start by brainstorming at least four to five potential names. The goal is to come up with a
few catchy and creative names, then check to see if they’re available. A good brainstorming session
should last 15 to 45 minutes and it’s important that
you’re comfortable. Think snacks, water, a comfy place to sit, and your favorite pen. Use a timer and don’t
stop till it goes off. If you need more time, take a 15-minute break, walk around a bit, grab some more water, and start again. After doing some brainstorming
and coming up with a list of a few business names to choose from, ask yourself these questions
to help pick a name or refine some of the names you have. Is my name simple and
shorter rather than longer? A simple name will be easier to remember, easier to talk about, and easier to write. You can avoid some hassle by
having a simple and short name. Shorter business names
are easier to remember and generally simpler
than long business names. If your business name is too
long, there’s a possibility that your clients call you by a nickname that you have no control over and doesn’t do your business any favors. How does the name sound
when I say it out loud? Don’t just read the name,
actually say it out loud. Say your name slow, fast,
and with a different emphasis to make sure it doesn’t end up
sounding like something else. Is it easy to pronounce, spell, and does the acronym look okay? Along the same lines as
having as simple name, a business name will be more memorable if it’s easy to pronounce and spell. Another important thing to keep in mind is if the acronym of your business ends up spelling something. You don’t wanna choose
a name for your business only to find out the
first letter of each word spells out flop. Did I include a geographical
location in my name? By including a location in your name, you may limit your business
and growth potential. Customers and other states may
not consider contacting you if they think you are
only trying to do business in a specific location. How does the name compare to other businesses in the industry? Look at your potential competitors’ names. Does there seem to be a format that other businesses
in the industry follow when naming their businesses? Does your name stand out in a bad way? You want a name that’s
unique and grabs attention but not one that will make
you seem unprofessional compared to other companies. Did I avoid trends? Naming your business based on trends might give you a small
boost in initial customers but you’ll end up dating your business when the trend fades away. What may be a funny joke
or reference at the time will fade away and no one will understand. Is my name memorable or is
it too narrow or literal? Although you want a simple name and one that describes
your business’s mission, you don’t want one so unoriginal that it won’t stand out on a crowd. You want to convey your
niche or your uniqueness and your name is a great place to do that. Three, complete name searches. Once you’ve narrowed
down to just a few names, you’ll want to check to make
sure the names are available. The first and most important search is your state’s business database. If the name is not available, you’ll have to adjust your
name or use a different one. We provide instructions to
search your business name in every state on our
state business pages. Searching is free. To learn more, visit
our state naming guides linked in the description below. After confirming your name
is available in your state, we recommend doing a domain search to see if your name is available as a URL. Even if you don’t plan on
making a website today, we recommend buying your domain in order to prevent
others from acquiring it. Next, do a quick search on the US Trademark
Electronic Search System and see whether someone has
already trademarked your name. Once you know the name is available, you can choose to apply for a
trademark for your business, but the cost is between $225 and $600 which may be more than you
want to pay for a startup. Naming your business can be
one of the most important and one of the most fun steps
in starting your business. When deciding on your business name, you’ll want to first determine
your business’s structure to make sure you are following
all naming requirements of your business type. You’ll also want to check
the naming requirements that are specific to your state in which you’ll be forming your business. Think about your branding, how your name will affect your brand, and if you want to have
a separate brand name from your business’s legal name. After brainstorming some ideas, you’ll want to check and see if they are available in your state and do a quick web search to see if they are
available as a web domain. Once you’ve searched on
the state level and online, look to see if any of
your brainstormed ideas are trademarked. Now you know all the steps
to name your business. For a more detailed guide, visit our website at Give the video a Like
if you found it useful and subscribe if you’d like to see more. And if you have questions
or encounter any roadblocks, leave a comment below. Good luck in starting your small business. (gentle music)


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