Business Name Considerations
Choosing a business name that will endure and embody both your values and your company's distinguishing identity and characteristics.
You should also give thought to whether it is web-ready.
- Is the domain name available
- How will your name look? - On the web, as part of a logo, on social media
- What connotations does it evoke? - Is your name too corporate or not corporate enough? Does it reflect your business philosophy and culture? Does it appeal to your market?
- Is it unique? - Pick a name that has not been claimed by others, online or offline. A quick web search and domain name search will alert you to any existing use.
Fictitious Business Name (FBN)
A fictitious name or trade name is a business name that is different from your personal name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation. Because the FBN allows you to Do Business As a name other than your given name, it is also called a DBA or DBA Name. Any business name that does not include the last name of all the individuals who own the business, or a business name that suggests the existence of additional owners, such as the words company or association, is considered a fictitious business name. In the case of a corporation, a fictitious business name is any name other than the corporate name stated in its articles of incorporation. No fictitious business name may include the words "corporation," "Inc.," "incorporation," or "Corp.," unless it is a corporation registered with the Secretary of State.
When you choose to name your business, you must choose a name no one else is using in your County of business. You can check to see if the name you want is available using the Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Search. We recommend searching the internet and checking the US Patent and Trademark Office or the CA Secretary of State's Corporate Division to see if your name is being used in other areas as well.
Check if the name you want is available. You can check name availability in California and reserve an available name by mail with the CA Secretary of State.
Is Your Name Web-Ready?
In order to claim a website address or URL, your business name needs to be available. To find out if your business name has been claimed online, do a simple web search to see if anyone is already using that name.
Next, check whether a domain name (or web address) is available. You can do this using the WHOIS database of domain names. If it is available, be sure to claim it right away. This guide explains how to register a domain name.
Register Your New Business Name
Registering your business name involves a process known as registering a "Doing Business As (DBA)" name or trade name. Registering your "Doing Business As" name is simply the process of letting your state government know that you are doing business as a name other than your personal name or the legal name of your partnership or corporation.
If You Intend to Incorporate
If you intend to incorporate your business, you'll need to contact your state filing office to check whether your intended business name is already in use.
Apply for Trademark Protection
A trademark protects words, names, symbols, and logos that distinguish goods and services. Your name is one of your most valuable business assets, so it's worth protecting. You can file for a trademark for less than $300.
Check for Trademarks
Trademark infringement can carry a high cost for your business. Before you pick a name, use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's trademark search tool to see if a similar name, or variations of it, is trademarked.
These Factors and More to Consider When Naming Your Business at Small Business Administration.