One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of starting your business is choosing a name for your company. Picking the right name is crucial because it creates an image of the brand in the mind of potential customers. It also shares the idea of what your business or service is about. Selecting the wrong name for your business could put you at risk, setting you back months or possibly not launching altogether. To help you get started with the naming process, we've compiled a list of eight words you should avoid when naming your business.
Generally speaking, most states will not allow a business to:
Include business entity identifiers such as “incorporated,” “corporation,” “Inc.,” “limited liability company” or “LLC” as part of the name if the business is not actually incorporated. On the same note, a business that is incorporated or an LLC must include “corporation,” “incorporated,” “limited” or an abbreviation, such as LLC or Inc., as part of its name.
Use a name that implies the LLC is a government entity, such as Federal, United States, etc.
Use a name that is misleading to the public, causing them to think the company provides something it actually doesn’t. For example, Kate’s Coffee Mugs, but they sell rugs.
Include a word that implies professional licensing if the business does not have the appropriate licensing. For example, CPA or attorney.
Use words like “bank,” “trust” or “insurance,” unless you're a business that is legally authorized to operate as such.
Use a name that is deceptively similar to another business name on record, such as Spencer Gifts versus Spencer’s Gifts.
Use a name with any sort of profanity in it.
Use derivatives, or other forms of prohibited words, such as adding “ing” to the end or using its plural form.
Additional Factors to Consider
Not only should you be aware of certain names to avoid, but there are a few other factors to consider when brainstorming for your business name.
Createa business name that is short and unique. There’s no need for a descriptive name. Short names are easier to remember and better for social media and SEO. Descriptive names can bury you in Google searches, lessening your chance of being found by prospects and customers.
Keepyour business name simple. From a marketing perspective, this is important. A simpler name will help to deliver a short and to-the-point message about your brand, making it easier to stay top of mind with your customers.
Makesure it's easy to read and easy to say. If your customers are unable to say it, or read it, that’s a problem. Having a name that’s hard to say will prevent customers from talking about it with others. It will also hurt when searching online for your business. Avoid odd spellings and any recent trends.
What to Do to Ensure You Don’t Break the Rules
Before you bust out the business cards, there are some additional steps you need to take to ensure that you’re not breaking the rules.
Check for Name Availability
Make sure your name isn’t already used by another company in your state. There are searchable databases and name checking tools of all registered business names that can help you double check that your name isn't taken. The process can be done online quickly and easily.
Trademarks matter — a lot. Avoid a potential legal issue or having to change your name by doing a trademark search. This can be done through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Once you’ve confirmed that your business name isn’t trademarked, you should trademark the name yourself. This will help prevent anyone else from potentially taking your business name, which could lead to taking legal action to cease and desist.
Hire an Attorney
It doesn't hurt to have legal guidance about naming your business. Consider seeking out the expertise of an attorney or other qualified professional to help you double check you’re covering your bases.
It’s not impossible to change the name of your LLC in the future, but it could result in the loss of brand recognition, customers and costs associated with changing your business's name. Get ahead and set yourself up for success by following the steps above. Once you’ve found that right name, and checked all those boxes, it’s time to form your LLC. Lean on Incfile for all your LLC filing and company formation needs. You can get started today for as little as $0 + state fees, and you'll get a free year of Registered Agent service.