Choosing A Name For Your Business: Six Things You Should Avoid


In launching a new business, one of the most important decisions you will make is giving your company a name. Your company’s name is its identity; the name is how your company will present itself to customers and the general public. Several potential pitfalls exist that can result in your choosing a name that may not serve your new company well. Avoid the following six approaches in naming your company.

Unoriginal Names

Most jurisdictions require each business to have a unique name. This is so that the public has a way of identifying your company and distinguishing it from other companies that perform similar functions. There is room for flexibility here; two businesses located within a single jurisdiction that have unrelated functions may be allowed to have the same or similar names. However, to ensure that your company’s name is original, you should conduct a search with the secretary of state or your jurisdiction’s equivalent office of prospective business names.

Unrelated Names

It’s true, some of the most successful companies in history have names that have nothing to do with their business function: Apple, Google and Pepsi come to mind. However, these large companies have resources that your company likely does not have, namely, large sums of money to support marketing and advertising campaigns. For most business owners, it makes more sense to choose a name that has some association with your company’s function or with you personally.

Legally Prohibited Names

Is your company registered as a corporation with your jurisdiction? If not, you cannot use the words “Incorporated,” “Corporation” any variation of either word as part of your company’s name. Other names that might cause you to run afoul of the law include “Limited” “Government” or “Association.”

Place-Limited Names

Avoid place limited names unless your business is explicitly related to a specific location. While it’s true that using your present location as part of your company’s name is a simple way to anchor your business to a specific location. That may work to your advantage now, but what happens if your company takes off and you wish to expand? Even if you’re a one-man or one-woman operation and intend to remain so, what happens if you ever decide to relocate?

Overly Complex Names

Your company’s name should be relatively easy for your customers to remember. Of course, if your name is Jane Jehosephat, you’re perfectly entitled to name your company after yourself if you choose. However, if you give your company a tongue-twister name with fourteen syllables, you may lose customers or clients simply because they can’t pronounce or even remember the name of your business.

Unregistered Names

If you are a sole proprietor and do business under your legal name, you probably don’t have to register a company name with your local jurisdiction. However, legally incorporated businesses, along with all businesses that operate operates under fictitious names must register the fictitious names and the legal names of their owners. Registration also prevents other business owners from claiming the same name at a later date. Obtaining trademark protection may also be advisable, if you have invented a word as part of your company’s name. You should also obtain and register a domain name related to your business name to use for your company’s website.

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