Now that you’ve brainstormed and gone through the steps to create a business name, you may think you’re done, but you might miss a key step. Not only does your business name need to be creative, simple, explain what you do and look good as a logo, but you need to make sure everything is legal.
Plus, if you’re already worried about trademarks or other aspects of choosing a name, there may be a solution you should consider.
LifeWorking and the CIC Business Incubator are here to guide you through the entire business naming exercise and the right workspace to foster the creativity needed to get your business started. Visit us today and find out how we can help.
The Importance of Checking the Name
Once you’ve brainstormed and think you’ve come up with some naming options, now comes the research portion. You have to do research to ensure the name you have picked is going to work for legal reasons, for example. Be sure to check out the name in the following:
- Within your industry. Make sure the name you have picked is not already being used within your industry. Others may have gotten there first.
- Competitors as well. Your competitors might have already gotten there before you, too. You also want to be sure your name isn’t too close to something your competitors have used for any of their companies or their products.
- Make your research extensive. Doing your due diligence is crucial and make sure you have exhausted your search in every way you can.
Of course, there’s also Google. You can quickly search to find out if a name is trademarked. You can also search for the website domain and find out if it’s free. Searching for the social media handles and making sure they’re free will be important as you move forward. Also, if you are making up a name, do some research and find out that the name doesn’t accidentally mean something you don’t want it to mean, perhaps in another language or culture. There might also be naming rules for each state you’ll want to investigate.
An important thing to remember is the trademarking aspect. Trademarks create intellectual property protection, and it relates to the words, phrases, symbols, and the graphic designs. This would include the brand names, the logos you create, the business names and the slogans, too.
- Google it. Is it trademarked? Is the website domain free? Social media handles free?
- If you’re making up a word, make sure it doesn’t have a meaning you’re unaware of
- Naming rules per state
- g.: In Illinois, the naming rules include:
- Your name cannot include words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
- Restricted words (e.g., Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your business. Learn more about Illinois naming guidelines here.
If you want to follow this link, you can search right now to see if the name you are thinking about isn’t already trademarked.
To find out if your domain is available, follow this link and check the name to find out if someone already owns the domain, but maybe has not yet published the site.
To find out if your business name isn’t actually something negative in another language, click here.
Remember the DBA Option
If you’re just starting out it’s unnecessary to trademark your name, but you need to register your business name with your county. This is where the DBA comes in.
DBA stands for “doing business as.” It’s also referred to as your business’s assumed trade or fictitious name.
Filing for a DBA allows you to conduct business under a name other than your own; your DBA differs from your name as the business owner, or your business’s legal, registered name. That’s because when you form a business, the legal name of the business defaults to the name of the person or entity that owns the business. That is, unless you register your business as a certain legal entity (more on that below), or if you rename and register your business with a DBA.
Find Resources at LifeWorking and the CIC Business Incubator
If all of this sounds like a lot of work and perhaps something a little bit intimidating, then LifeWorking and the CIC Business Incubator have resources you can use to help. We bring entrepreneurs together so they can pool their resources and knowledge to help other entrepreneurs.
If you become a member of the CIC Business Incubator, then you also get to tap into the knowledge and information available from business owners who have been right where you are. Our expert mentors can offer guidance in choosing a name, but also with the legal aspects, searching for trademarks and dealing with other issues.
Does this sound like something that could benefit your efforts? Become a member of the CIC Business Incubator or stop by LifeWorking for a day and see how our workspace fosters creativity and helps your business start and grow. Visit us today by getting a day pass. And if you want to become a client of the CIC Business Incubator, sign up today!