How to register a company name
Updated: Apr 22, 2022
Your company name is without a doubt a sacred part of your business. Whether you're developing a business plan or creating a website, you know that your business name must be at the heart of each of these important components.
With this in mind, you want to protect your business name from others who potentially use and abuse it. To help you find the best way to register a business name, this guide will guide you through the process and give you insight into each option.
Choose a company name
Before you can register a company name, you need to find a solid name, which is an important part of starting a business. Although it takes a little creativity and research to find the right name, the process may not start the same way for everyone. You may already know that no matter what name you come up with, it must reflect the types of products or services you offer. For example, a nail technician will most likely highlight the word nail in their company name, especially since it is the core of their work identity.
Then there are those whose businesses may be broader or expect to grow and diversify. In both cases, it is advisable to follow these guidelines for how to name a business from scratch so that you can find one that ticks in all the correct boxes.
Here are the main factors you need to consider:
Use a company name generator A company name generator allows you to get a head start on the naming process by automatically generating a handful of best company names for you. You can use the options as ideas and change them as you like.
To use this tool, just type three descriptive words about your business in the search box. Try to focus on industry-specific descriptive terms when feeding words into the generator, for example:
Exercise: Try body, mind and health.
Restaurant: Think fresh, market and gourmet.
Craftsman: Emphasize craftsmanship, folk music and handmade in your search.
Designer: Attribute concepts like, modern, vintage or edgy.
Now that you have a long list of business name ideas, use your personal preferences and professional instincts to narrow down your options. First and foremost, your business name should be original so that it can stand out from your competition. Ideally, people will recognize your unique name and instantly link it to your brand, which can help you along the way if you choose to register your company name and brand it.
Keep it simple
Whatever original name you choose, your customers need to know how to write it down or type it into a search engine. With that in mind, use a name that is easy to remember and spell. That way, there will be no confusion or misspellings on their part, as well as from future partners and suppliers for your brands and businesses.
Once you've made a choice, it's time to move on to the next step: registering your business name.
How to register a company name in 3 ways
Now that you've got a strong name for your business, you're ready to make it official. The main reason for registering a company name is to protect your business or brand so that others cannot use the same. While I want to focus on what this process looks like in the United States, I strongly recommend that those who register a company name in other countries contact their local government agencies for further insight.
Depending on your legal structure and the state of your business in the United States, there are several ways to register your company name. Each of them serves a different purpose, so read carefully the qualifications and requirements that follow.
Select a device name
Select a DBA name
Buy your domain name
01. Select a device name
One method of registering a company name is to fill out the necessary paperwork to become a business entity. The device name you choose will be the legal name of your business. You must sign all official documents and contracts under this name as required by state regulations.
Once you have decided on the type of business you want to form, whether it is a non-incorporated business (such as an LLC) or a limited liability company, you must submit registration documents to the relevant Secretary of State's office, a business office or a business agency, together with your chosen Legal name. Furthermore, state laws prohibit companies from registering a name that is already in use by another company, and from using certain phrases or words. This is why it is crucial throughout the process to search for a unit's name and examine the rules and regulations by state.
That said, company suffixes like Inc or Co need not feel intimidating when building a brand. In fact, many of us can trace back our earliest and possibly most enduring encounter with device names in nostalgic places like the Looney Tunes cartoon and its fictional Acme Corporation. Interestingly, this has given a positive connotation when it comes to brand image, and shows that device names can serve to strengthen brand authority.
02. Select a DBA name
Alternatively, you can choose a Doing Business As name, also known as a DBA. This allows you to do business as a name other than your own or device name. It is a good option if you are the sole owner and want to register your business under a name other than your own. Similarly, companies and LLCs may prefer to use a name that is different from what they filed with their legal paperwork (ie, Fresh Foods Inc. may register its DBA as Fresh Foods).
Although it does not provide legal protection, most local and state authorities require you to register a company name in one form or another. And with a DBA, you will also be eligible for a Federal Tax ID (EIN) and can open a commercial bank account under it. Registering a company name as a DBA can increase your company's strategy and the ways you conduct business.
03. Buy your domain name
For some small business owners, registering a domain name for the business name is the last step in the naming process. Even if you are in the early stages of creating a website for your new business, you should buy a domain name as soon as possible to prevent another business from buying it.
A best practice is to use your business name as a domain name so that customers can easily identify and find your business online. But first you need to perform a domain name search to make sure yours is available. Once you've got your domain name, you can register it with Wix for as long as you need it, and be ready when you link it to your site.
Bonus: Trademark your company name
While a company name is registered at the state level, when you trademark a company name, you take a step further towards protecting your company brand at the national level. Let's take a deeper dive into what that entails.
Under the Lanham Act, also known as the Trademark Act of 1946, activities such as trademark infringement, dilution of a known trademark and false advertising are prohibited by law. Any word, expression, logo or symbol identified or identified by a trademark, such as Betty Crocker, Google or Ford, has the right to federal legal protection against infringement.
To be eligible for trademark protection, your trademark must be "in commercial use and it must be distinctive," according to the law. If you meet the requirements, you can file an application to trademark your business name through the United States Patent and Trademark Office, where you must pay a processing fee of $ 250 per class of goods and services. Before you can officially trademark a company name, you must double check yours against the official database from the USPTO.
Freddy Fix borrowed from Wix