Deciding on your business name can be quite an undertaking. You want your business name to be unique, align with your business mission, establish trust and grab customers’ attention. You also need to conduct an LLC business name search with your state to make sure your potential company name isn’t already in use before you can officially register your business.
Once you do finally choose a business name and want to form your limited liability company (LLC), you may be wondering how to properly use your new business name in every situation and occurrence it may pop up in. Do you have to use the term “LLC” on all legal documents? Do you have to use it for all marketing and advertising? Here are some helpful tips and guidelines on when you should use “LLC” and when you can do without it.
What Does “LLC” Mean After a Company Name?
You may not be completely aware of the implications (positive and negative) that forming an LLC has. Having “LLC” after your company name is important. A major benefit of an LLC structure is that business owners keep their personal assets separate from the company, therefore protecting themselves when it comes to company debts and responsibilities.
Consumers may trust a business more if it is an LLC vs. not having a legal business entity type. Certification helps build credibility with your consumers. Since it has become increasingly easy to start a business due to technology, anyone can launch a website and call themselves a business. However, having “LLC” at the end of your business name adds a degree of credibility and consumer trust. It serves as a signal to your customers that your business is a legally formed company.
While “LLC” is the most common abbreviation, you may find “Limited Liability Co.,” “Limited” or “L.C.C.” to be used in some states. If you are searching for more information on state-by-state differences, check out our guide here.
When to Use “LLC” in Your Business Name
Now that you understand the importance of noting your business is an LLC, you may still be wondering if you should put LLC in your business name when it comes to your legal documents, financial statements, advertising and marketing, or if you can leave it out.
It is advisable to use this designator whenever possible, especially when signing any agreements or engaging in any type of legal contract. It is also useful to display the full name when you design LLC business cards or stationary, are listed on a building directory and when you create your website.
You should always include “LLC” on all invoices, contracts, leases, legal records, tax returns, letterheads and other purposes. In most states, it is required to add “LLC” to your business name when forming your business, filing for an EIN or paying taxes.
Having “LLC” noted on documents such as invoices, contracts and leases will inform clients and customers that your company is a separate legal entity and that legally they are dealing with an entity and not with you personally. That could save you from potential lawsuits. If someone is considering suing you, they may stand down if they realize they won’t have access to your personal assets.
When You DON’T Have to Use “LLC” in Your Business Name
Whether it’s because “LLC” doesn’t fit in your logo design or doesn’t sound as nice as you would like, you may be curious if you can do without adding it to the end of your business while conducting advertising and marketing.
While you’ll still want to check with your state’s specific rules, you generally do not need to include “LLC” in any marketing materials. Another option is to consider a DBA name.
Once you registered your LLC, you can choose to register a DBA name (doing business as), which is also called a “fictitious” or “assumed” business name. You can file for a DBA and not use “LLC” in the title. For example, your legal LLC name could be “Taylor Brothers LLC” and your DBA is “Taylor Coffee.” This is a legal way around including “LLC”; however, since it does vary by state, research the state-by-states rules and requirements for this first.
With that being said, you do not always have to include “LLC” in your logo, domain name, social media pages or marketing collateral. Therefore, you don’t need “LLC” in your branding, but it’s important that you include “LLC” in your business title for all legal documentation.
Get Help Forming Your LLC
At the end of the day, the business name you choose and how you use it is incredibly important. It can potentially save you from lawsuits, build your credibility and trust with consumers and allow you to stand out from competitors. Let Incfile help you form your LLC. We’ll provide guidance on business names and ensure you are legally compliant in all aspects of starting your business.