Corporation, limited liability company and limited partnership names may be adopted as follows:
- A corporation name may be adopted if the name is not the same as or too similar to an existing name on the records of the California Secretary of State or if the name is not misleading to the public.
- A limited liability company name may be adopted if the name is distinguishable on the records of the California Secretary of State or if the name is not misleading to the public.
- A limited partnership name may be adopted if the name is distinguishable on the records of the California Secretary of State.
When determining name availability, names are checked only against names of like entities registered with the California Secretary of State (e.g. a proposed corporation name is checked for availability only against other corporation names).
Names are not checked against trademark or service mark registrations or against fictitious business names. Laws relating to trademarks and service marks can be found in the California Business and Professions Code section 14200, et seq. and United States Code. Title 15, section 1051, et seq. Laws relating to fictitious business names (which are filed with the county in which the principal place of business is located) can be found in the California Business and Professions Code section 17900, et seq .
Prior to adopting a proposed name, the name may be checked for availability or reserved for a period of 60 days.
Stationery, signs, etc. should not be ordered and no financial commitments should be made until the appropriate formation, registration or change documents are submitted to and filed by the California Secretary of State.
Checking Name Availability
A free preliminary check of the availability of a name can be requested by mailing a completed Name Availability Inquiry Letter (PDF) to the California Secretary of State’s office in Sacramento. Email or online inquiries cannot be accepted at this time.
If you frequently check for name availability, see Prepay Priority Telephone Service below for information about the option to establish a prepay account to check for name availability by phone.
Checking the availability of a name does not reserve the name, has no binding effect on the California Secretary of State and does not confer any rights to a name.
Reserving a Name
A name can be reserved for a period of 60 days. Fees and instructions for reserving a name are included on the Name Reservation Request Form (PDF). Email or online requests for name reservations cannot be accepted at this time.
The reservation can be renewed to the same applicant or for the benefit of the same party, but not for consecutive periods. (California Corporations Code section 201(c). 2601(c). 5122(c). 7122(d). 9122(c). 12302(d). 15901.09 or 17701.09 .)
If you frequently reserve corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership names, see Prepay Priority Telephone Service below for information about the option to establish a prepay account to reserve names by phone.
The reservation of a name does not guarantee the name meets all federal and state requirements related to a specific entity type. Names are reviewed for compliance at the time documents are submitted to the California Secretary of State’s office for filing.
Foreign Name Registration
If the name is available for use in California, to protect the name for future use, a foreign (not California) corporation that is (1) not registered with the California Secretary of State and (2) not transacting intrastate business in California, can register the corporate name with the Secretary of State by filing a Registration of Corporate Name by Foreign Corporation (PDF) .
- The registration is effective until the close of the calendar year in which the application for registration is filed. A corporation may renew its registration by filing a new form between October 1 and December 31 of each year. The renewal, when filed, extends the registration for the following calendar year.
- A certificate by an authorized public official of the state or place of incorporation, to the effect that the corporation is an existing corporation in good standing in that state or place, must be attached to the Registration of Corporate Name by Foreign Corporation form at the time of filing with the California Secretary of State.
- The Registration of Corporation Name By Foreign Corporation form may be used for the initial registration or for renewal if the foreign corporation has previously registered its corporate name with the California Secretary of State.
To cancel a foreign name registration before the close of the calendar year. a Certificate of Cancellation of Foreign Name Registration (PDF) can be filed with the California Secretary of State.
Prepay Priority Telephone Service
If you frequently check for name availability or reserve corporation, limited liability company or limited partnership names, you may want to establish a prepay account with the California Secretary of State for Priority Telephone Service.
Priority Telephone Service requires a minimum deposit of $100.00, although a calculation of your expected usage may require a larger amount of deposit. After establishing the account, you will be able to check for name availability or reserve a name by phone. A $4.00 fee will be charged to your account for each name availability search, and a $10.00 reservation fee will be charged to your account for each name reservation.
For information about establishing a prepay account for Priority Telephone Service, please email your request to the California Secretary of State’s Fiscal office or call (916) 653–1233.
Please note, the Fiscal office staff can assist you with establishing a prepay account, but cannot determine name availability or reserve a name.
Business name registration
Last Updated: 11 August 2016
A business name, also known as a trading name, is simply a name or title under which a person, or other legal entity, trades.
Your business name not only identifies you to your customers, but also allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors and enables your customers to make an emotional connection to your business and brand. For many businesses, the name is often the most valuable asset.
If you register a business name, it will be connected to your Australian Business Number (ABN).
If you haven’t decided on a business name yet, read our How do I choose a business name? page for some tips.
When you must register
When setting up your business, if you choose to operate as a sole trader, partnership or a trust, and not as a company, then you will have to register your business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
If your business name is your, or your partner’s, first name and surname, then there is no need to register.
- Sally Miller has a jewellery business named ‘Sally Miller’. As her business is trading under her own name, she does not need to register for a business name.
- Jodie Hart has a floral business named ‘Hart Flowers’. As her business is not trading under her own name, she will need to register the business name ‘Hart Flowers’.
If you’re trading as a company, you’ll need to register a company name when you register your company.
How do I register for a business name?
All business name registrations are managed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). You can Register a business name through the ASIC website.
You will need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN), or be in the process of applying for an ABN and not have been refused. ABN registrations are free, and you can have multiple business names linked to your ABN.
Once you have an Australian Business Number (ABN), you can register a business name online. You can do this through the ABN application or through ASIC Connect.
To register for a business name:
- Decide on a name that’s right for your business.
- See if the business name you want is available through the check name availability search on the ASIC website.
- Register for your business name online.
The National Business Names Registration System replaces previous state and territory registers. You now only need to register for a business name with ASIC once, and it’s registered nationally
You can’t register a business name that is identical or too similar to a business name registered to another Australian business or company. However, a business name does not give you legal rights to that name. This means that if someone else uses your business name for their business, you don’t have any rights to stop them.
Cost of registering
The fees to register your business name with ASIC include:
Find out more about the business name payments and fees for registering or renewing a business name, and how to pay your fees on the ASIC website.
How long does registration take?
A business name registration application should take you around 15 -20 minutes to complete online. If you have an ABN, have provided all the required documents, and paid the fee, you should get confirmation in:
- two business days for payment by credit card
- up to five business days for payment made by BPay, EFT or Bank Transfer.
ASIC will notify you two months before your business name is due for renewal.
Previous state or territory registrations
Registration of your business name applies nationally, so you do not need to register across different states and territories.
If you previously registered your business name in more than one state or territory, all your business names have been transferred to ASIC’s national business names register. Any of these names can be used to carry on business nationally. You may choose to keep one business name record (e.g. the one with the latest registration expiry) and allow your remaining business names to lapse by not paying the renewal fee.
If your business had an identical name as another business operating in another state or territory, ASIC will provide additional information on the public register to differentiate affected businesses. This may be the state or territory your business name was first registered in. This identifier doesn’t form part of your business name, but is used to allow people to distinguish between identical business names on the public register.
Multiple business names
If you have multiple different business names, or also have a registered company, you are now able to align the renewal dates for those registrations. If you have multiple principal places of business across Australia, ASIC will notify you of which address it intends to use as the principal place of business for sending documents. You may nominate an alternative address for service through ASIC .
Searching the business name register
Whether you need to find out when your business name is due for renewal or check a name’s availability when starting your business, you can perform a quick, online search using the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) business names register.
The register can provide information on:
- registered and cancelled business names
- the entity behind the name
- how the entity can be contacted.
Before working with other businesses, it can help to check they are a legitimate and registered business. Information found on the business names register is generally available for free, though some information is only available by purchasing an extract.
Renewing a business name
ASIC will notify you – usually within 28 days to two months of your renewal due date.
You can renew your registration through ASIC Connect. Renewal notices will be sent by mail to the address for service of documents for your business. You can check your business name details by searching ASIC Connect to see what address is recorded.
If you don’t renew your business name registration on time there are no late fees; however the registration of the business name will be cancelled if the renewal fee is not paid by the due date on the invoice. No extensions will be granted.
If you don’t want to renew your business name, you don’t need to do anything when you receive your renewal notice. The business name will be cancelled after the renewal date if no action has been taken to renew the name. You can also cancel your business name at any time.
Business names certificate of registration
Did you know that you no longer need to display your certificate of registration for your business name?
In 2012 legislation was introduced that removed the need for businesses to display a certificate of registration.
However, if your business is prominently open to the public, such as a caf , you’ll still need to display your business name somewhere.
For questions about registering, renewing, updating, and cancelling business names in Australia, visit the ASIC website or call 1300 300 630.
- Check out ASIC’s suite of videos about registering, renewing and transferring your business name.
- To ensure you have exclusive use of your name now and in the future throughout Australia, apply for a trade mark .
- To use your business name as part of your web address, take a look at our Register your domain page.
- Read through our Starting a business topic to help you get started.
- Learn more about the four Business structures you can choose when starting your business to understand the obligations for each.
- Understand the differences between a sole trader and a company structure .
- Register your company if you’re planning to operate under a company structure.
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Over the next few years, hundreds of new domain name endings like .guru and .photography will become available. We will be working to provide you with as many options as possible so you can find the most relevant and meaningful names as you get started online. View all the available domain name endings in the Help Center.
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Fast, secure, and reliable Internet infrastructure with Google
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Simple domain management tools
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With Google Domains, you get chat, phone, and email support (M-F, 6am to 9pm PST). Click here to get in touch.
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On the Limited Plan you get access to 12 widget points. Each widget has a certain amount of points linked to it. You will be able to add widgets to your website up the amount of available points.
For example: You could add the Facebook Widget (3 points), Contact Form Widget (2 points), Photo Gallery (5 points) and the Search Widget (2 points) to your website. This would total your available 12 points.
You would not be able to add another widget unless you removed one of the widgets from your website to free up available points for another widget.
Certain widgets are only available with the full version such as the ecommerce widgets, embedded widget and maps. A full list of available widgets and feature points are in the downloadable PDF
On the Full Version, there is no point restriction and you are able to add as many webpages or widgets as you would like.
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Search and Register a Domain Name
At domains.co.za we make it easy and inexpensive to get the domain you want
Use the domains.co.za quick search below to check if your perfect domain name is available.
Use the dropdown to select the extension you would like to search.
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Included With Your Domain
Not ready to launch a website just yet? No Problem! You can register your domain name with us, without it being associated with any services such as e-mail or website hosting until you are ready to launch.
With every domain you get free DNS management and free DNS hosting, even if your website is hosted elsewhere.
Host your domain with us and point it to another providers nameservers or you can use our nameservers for free DNS hosting.
“Is It Up” Monitoring Tool
Use our free “Is It Up” service to check if your domain or website is up from multiple locations around South Africa and the world.
Google Safe Browsing Checks
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Check your domain against well-known blacklists to see if your domain is listed on any of them.
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Social Engagement Tracking
You can track your domain name mentions, likes and comments on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Google Plus.
Our friendly and knowledgeable support staff are always ready to assist with questions you may have.
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name like www.your-domain-name.co.za is a website address that people will use to find you on the internet. Domain names are used as an address to locate businesses, organizations, or other entities on the Internet.
A great benefit of using your own domain name is that regardless of how many times you change your website hosting provider, your Email and website address will always remain the same.
I don’t have a website yet, why do I need a domain name now?
Registering your domain name now ensures that you own the domain name that may not otherwise be available when you want it.
Once registered, the domain name is yours, provided the domain renewal fees are paid each year.
You can park the domain, use it, sell it or lease it to other individuals or companies.
Domain parking is included free with all our domain name registrations and transfers.
What type of domain names can I register at Domains.co.za
We offer all South African ccTLD and gTLD domains (ie. co.za .org.za .net.za .web.za .joburg .durban and .capetown)
International TLD’s and gTLD’s domains are also available, including all the most popular .com .net .org .biz and .mobi.
With more than 1000 new gTLD domains being added to the internet, we will constantly update our list of available domain extensions.
Why Domains.co.za for your domain names
We are the only operation ICANN Accredited Registrar in South Africa and currently the largest ICANN Registrar in Africa.
Some of the largest companies in South Africa look to us for solutions because of our expertise and extensive experience in the domain name industry.
With each domain name registration or transfer we include a range of free services including Domain Parking, URL Forwarding and DNS Management on our globally redundant nameservers.
How long does it take to register a domain name?
Your domain registration could be complete within minutes, provided the domain registration fee is paid and your registration information is filled out correctly.
How long does it take to transfer a domain name?
This depends on the ccTLD or gTLD that is being transferred.
Legacy .co.za domains can take up to 24 hours to transfer, while .co.za domains which are on EPP can be transferred in a matter of minutes, provided the domain transfer is accepted by the domain owner.
* All listed prices exclude premium domain names
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Ski New Zealand
When you think of New Zealand, what comes to mind? Bungee jumping, Middle Earth, and some pretty epic wines? How about some of the best ski conditions in the world? Never failing to impress the adventurer in you New Zealand rarely lags behind when it comes to outdoor pursuits, and is home to a host of great winter sport resorts.
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What ski resorts does New Zealand have?
STA Travel offer ski packages in three of the best New Zealand ski resorts: Queenstown, Wanaka and Mount Hutt in Methven.
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#doing business as
DBA stands for doing business as and is an official and public registration of a business name. DBAs are also known as Fictitious Names, Fictitious Business Names, Assumed Names, and Trade Names. Essentially, a DBA is the name of a business other than the owner’s name or, in the case of a corporation, a name that is different from the legal or true corporate name as on file with the Secretary of State. If you are conducting business under any name other than your own name or your company’s legal name, you must register the fictitious name with your state and/or county.
DBA registration is necessary if your company conducts any business under a name other than your own name (for sole proprietors) or its legal name (for state-level entities such as corporations and LLCs). “Conducting business” can include marketing, advertising, letterhead, business cards, etc. in addition to actual business transactions. Also, banks generally require a DBA registration in order to open a business bank account. DBA registration is required if you anticipate collecting money under a name other than your own name or your true corporate name.
Another common reason to register a DBA is when your state-level entity (such as a corporation or limited liability company) has a division or unit that conducts business using a variation of or a completely different name than the true name. For example, a bank whose true name is “ABC Bank Inc.” might market their mortgage services on a website called “abcmortgages.com” and might have a separate division for their loan services called “XYZ Lenders,” in which case they would most likely file DBAs for both “abcmortgages.com” and : XYZ Lenders in all jurisdictions in which these names are used.
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#business name ideas
YourBrand understands just how difficult it can be to choose a stellar name for your up-and-coming business. With so many options available, it often seems as if choosing a name for your company is an impossible task. Fortunately, we can help you find a company name that works in your favor.
Brainstorming that perfect name begins with inspiration. Take a look at similar websites to see how they came up with their names and think about your favorite websites with snappy names. Sometimes reading blogs by the experts is a helpful step too. The most important thing to remember is that you want to be memorable and stand out from all the other websites offering the same services.
Many of the best ideas come with exploration. Take a look at some of the ideas available that might give you a readymade solution. You should start writing down some of your favorite ideas that stay in line with your values and your company s motif. Sometimes writing down these ideas gives you entirely new material to work with. As you write them, say the names out loud to see if they are snappy enough to roll off the tip of your tongue.
There are many benefits to creating an excellent company name. Your name must be memorable; it needs to stay at the top of the average Internet user s mind. The name must also give your company room to expand. Keeping this advice in mind, you are well on your way to creating a bright new future for your company.
When trying to find a great brand name for a product or company, many people choose to blend two or more words together to create a single new word that customers will love and businesses can promote. It’s a great way for you to brand yourself in a way that no one else is and have unique combinations of names that appeal to your audience. Find a whole new way to create a brand for yourself and invent your own words to express your company best- you’ll find yourself branding yourself in a whole new direction that will help your business soar.
Unique Sounding Brand Names
Just as important as what a brand name represents is how it sounds. Believe it or not, the way a name rolls off a person’s tongue can make a lasting impression about your brand. You want to sound engaging and exciting, not bitter and tasteless, so your brand is recognizable in all the right ways with your customers.
Discover how having the right unique sounding brand names can give your business and image a fresh new start. After all, if your brand sounds great, it’s bound to be great in the eyes of your consumers. In the end, that’s what ultimately matters.
Unique Brand Naming
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#business name search
Business name availability tests
The Business Names Registration Act 2011 (the Act) outlines the circumstances under which a business name is available to an entity.
The Business Names Registration (Availability of Names) Determination 2015 specifies the rules for determining whether a business name is available for registration.
When testing business name availability, we apply a series of automated tests to assist us in assessing that it:
- is not already registered,
- is not identical or nearly identical to a name already registered to another entity, and
- does not include words or phrases that are restricted, offensive or could imply a connection to a government or similar organisation.
A breakdown of these tests is provided below.
Acceptable characters include all numbers, upper and lower-case letters as well as the prescribed special characters below.
Table 1: Valid Character Set
Undesirable words or expressions
Your proposed business name will be checked for any words or expressions which:
- are likely to be offensive to members of the public or any section of the public, or
- are misleading in that they suggest a connection with a prescribed entity that does not exist.
For example, the name ‘Department of Finance Money Exchange ‘ would be refused as this suggests a connection to the Commonwealth Department of Finance.
Restricted words or expressions
Your proposed business name will be checked for any restricted words or expressions. If one has been identified, you will require Ministerial consent to register the name.
In addition to this, if a word or expression has been found to have the same or a similar meaning to a restricted word or expression — it may also require Ministerial consent to register the name.
For example, the name ‘Online charity auctions ‘ would require Ministerial consent because it contains the restricted word ‘Charity ‘.
On 20 July 2015 the Treasury approved an update to the Guidelines for Ministerial consent for business names under the Act.
Name already used by another entity
Your proposed business name will be checked to ensure that it (or a similar name) is not already registered to another entity.
Name held for transfer
Your proposed business name will be checked against our list of business names that are held and in the process of being transferred from an existing business name holder to a new business name holder.
If you are to be the new business name holder, you can apply to register the business name by using the consent to transfer number the current holder has provided you.
Your proposed business name will be checked to ensure it is not already registered or reserved to another body under the Corporations Act 2001 for another body.
The identical match is assessed after the following matters are disregarded.
See Part 1 of the Schedule 6 of the Corporations Regulations 2001.
If the company or business name contains.
ASSOCIATION, CO-OPERATIVE, INCORPORATED, LIMITED, LTD, NO LIABILITY, NL. PROPRIETARY, PTY
disregard these words/legal elements (in one or both names)word in plural formconvert plural to singular form (so they are equivalent to singular form).
- CHILDREN to CHILD,
- BATTERIES to BATTERY
- CARS to CAR
differences relating to the size of characters, the type and case of letters, any accents, spacing between characters and punctuation marksdisregard. Punctuation marks include. ( ) _ – < >. ; ” ‘. / \ |
words in a different order disregard.
For disregarding the order of words, each of the following is to be treated as a word:
- a character separated by spaces
- a group of characters separated by spaces
- an abbreviation, or
- an acronym.
Business names registered to another body
Your proposed business name will be checked to ensure that it (or a similar name) is not already being used by another entity.
This includes all registered or held business names passed to us from a State or Territory register on commencement of the national business name service.
Names registered to another body on a state or territory register
This test is for an identical match against names registered to another body on a notified State or Territory register.
See Schedule 1 of the Business Names Registration Act 2011.
Depending on the State or Territory, notified registers generally include – Cooperatives, Incorporated Associations, Limited and/or Incorporated Limited Partnerships.
Business names held subject to finalisation of an activity
Your proposed business name will be checked against our list of held business names. Business names may be held if we are waiting for:
- payment. Business name owners have 10 business days to pay for their business name. The name will be held during this period.
- confirmation of an Australian Business Number.
Business names are also held for a period of time after they are cancelled. If the business name was cancelled by:
- The owner, it will be held for four months after cancellation is complete. For example, a business name cancelled on 4 January 2016 will not be available for registration until 4 May 2016.
- ASIC, it will be held for six months after cancellation is complete. For example, a business name cancelled by ASIC on 4 January 2016 will not be available for registration until 4 July 2016.
Words and expressions taken to have the same meaning
Your proposed business name will be checked in consideration of words and expressions that are taken to mean the same.
When comparing a business name with another name to check if they are identical or ‘nearly identical’, certain words and expressions are taken to have the same meaning as other words or expressions.
On 20 July 2015 the Business Name Registration (Availability of Names) Determination 2015 came into effect. Words and expressions taken to be the same are specified in Schedule 1 of the Determination.
For example, the business name ‘Premium Pest Control’ will be considered nearly identical to ‘Premium Pest Management’ and will not be available for registration. The terms ‘Pest Control’ and ‘Pest Management’ are listed in the same item in Schedule 1 and are taken to be the same.
Please be aware that the nature of a business is not taken into consideration in determining whether a business name is available for registration.
Words that sound the same
Your proposed business name will be checked to see if it can be pronounced the same as another name on the register.
This test will be undertaken using the literal transcription of the proposed business name and the names against which it is being compared.
We will check your name for a pronunciation match against:
- business names registered to another body, including names passed to us from a State or Territory register as a registered business name at commencement of the National Business Names service
- names registered to another body on a notified State or Territory register
- names advised to us as being a Government body or a name specified under a Commonwealth, or State or Territory Act, and
- business names we hold subject to finalisation of an activity, such as registration of an Australian Business Number, payment of the registration fee or cancellation of the registration.
For example, the following may be considered identical using the pronunciation test:
- ‘HARE OF THE DOG ‘ and ‘HAIR OF THE DOG ‘
- ‘COLOUR ME IN ‘ and ‘COLOUR ME INN ‘
Choosing a business name is an important step in the business planning process. Not only should you pick a name that reflects your brand identity, but you also need to ensure it is properly registered and protected for the long term. You should also give a thought to whether it’s web-ready. Is the domain name even available?
Here are some tips to help you pick, register, and protect your business name.
Factors to Consider When Naming Your Business
Many businesses start out as freelancers, solo operations, or partnerships. In these cases, it’s easy to fall back on your own name as your business name. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it does make it tougher to present a professional image and build brand awareness.
Here are some points to consider as you choose a name:
- 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 hasn’t been claimed by others, online or offline. A quick web search and domain name search (more on this below) will alert you to any existing use.
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.
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 has already been claimed and is in use. If you find a business operating under your proposed name, you may still be able to use it, provided your business and the existing business offer different goods/services or are located in different regions.
Pick a Name That is Web-Ready
In order to claim a website address or URL, your business name needs to be unique and available. It should also be rich in key words that reflect what your business does. 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 .
Claim Your Social Media Identity
It’s a good idea to claim your social media name early in the naming process – even if you are not sure which sites you intend to use. A name for your Facebook page can be set up and changed, but you can only claim a vanity URL or custom URL once you’ve got 25 fans or “likes.” This custom URL name must be unique, or un-claimed.
Register Your New Business Name
Registering a business name is a confusing area for new business owners. What does it mean and what are you required to do?
Registering your business name involves a process known as registering a “Doing Business As (DBA)” name or trade name. This process shouldn’t be confused with incorporation and it doesn’t provide trademark protection. 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 are operating under your own name, then you can skip the process.
Learn about the requirements in your state and how to file in this Registering Your Doing Business As Name guide.
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. Learn how to trademark your business name .
#new business names
How to Choose a Great Name for Your New Business
February 5, 2015
In their book Start Your Own Business , the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc. guides you through the critical steps to starting your business, then supports you in surviving the first three years as a business owner. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer smart tips to help you choose a name that really works for your new business.
When choosing a name for your business, start by deciding what you want it to communicate. To be most effective, your company name should reinforce the key elements of your business. So the first and most important step in choosing a name is deciding what your business is knowing what makes your business unique will help you choose a name that communicates that.
Remember, the more your name communicates to consumers, the less effort you must exert to explain it. According to naming experts, you should give priority to real words or combinations of words over fabricated words because people prefer words they can relate to and understand.
Naming experts also caution about choosing a name that s too narrowly defined. Common pitfalls are geographic names or generic names. Take the hypothetical name San Pablo Disk Drives for example. What if the company expands beyond the city of San Pablo, California? Or what if it diversifies beyond disk drives into software or computer instruction manuals?
Specific names make sense if you intend to stay in a narrow niche forever. If you have any ambitions of growing or expanding, however, you should find a name that s broad enough to accommodate your growth.
Before you start thinking up names for your new business, try to define the qualities you want your business to be identified with. If you re starting a hearth-baked bread shop, you might want a name that conveys freshness, warmth and a homespun atmosphere. Immediately, you can see that names like Kathy s Bread Shop or Arlington Breads would communicate none of these qualities. But consider the name Open Hearth Breads. The bread sounds homemade, hot and just out of the oven. Moreover, if you diversified your product line, you could alter the name to Open Hearth Bakery. This change would enable you to hold on to your suggestive name without totally mystifying your established clientele.
Begin your brainstorming search for a business name by looking in dictionaries, books and magazines to generate ideas. Get friends and relatives to help if you like; the more minds, the merrier. Think of as many workable names as you can during this creative phase.
The trials you put your names through will vary depending on your concerns. Some considerations are fairly universal. For instance, your name should be easy to pronounce, especially if you plan to rely heavily on print ads or signs. If people can t pronounce your business name, they ll avoid saying it. And nothing could be more counterproductive to a young company than to strangle its potential for word-of-mouth advertising.
Other considerations depend on more individual factors. For instance, if you re thinking about marketing your business globally or if you re located in a multilingual area, you should make sure your new name has no negative connotations in other languages. On another note, if your primary means of advertising will be in the telephone directory, you might favor names that are closer to the beginning of the alphabet. Finally, make sure that your name is in no way embarrassing. Put on the mind of a child and tinker with the letters a little. If none of your doodling makes you snicker, it s probably OK.
Naming firm Interbrand advises name seekers to take a close look at their competition: The major function of a name is to distinguish your business from others. You have to weigh who s out there already, what type of branding approaches they have taken, and how you can use a name to separate yourself. If any of your potential names is too close to that of your competitors , you should probably eliminate it.
After you ve narrowed the field to, say, four or five names that are memorable, expressive, and can be read by the average grade-schooler, you re ready to do a trademark search. Must every name be trademarked? No. Many small businesses don t register their business names. As long as your state government gives you the go-ahead, you may operate under an unregistered business name for as long as you like assuming, of course, that you aren t infringing on anyone else s trade name.
But what if you are? Imagine either of these two scenarios: You are a brand-new manufacturing business just about to ship your first orders. An obscure little company in Ogunquit, Maine, considers the name of your business an infringement on their trademark and engages you in a legal battle that bankrupts your company. Or envision your business in five years. It s a thriving, growing concern, and you are contemplating expansion. But just as you are about to launch your franchise program, you learn that a small competitor in Modesto, California, has the same name, rendering your name unusable.
Enlisting the help of a trademark attorney or at least a trademark search firm before you decide on a name for your business is highly advisable. After all, the extra money you spend now could save you countless hassles and expenses further down the road.
If you re lucky, you ll end up with three to five names that pass all your tests. How do you make your final decision? First, recall all your initial criteria. Which name best fits your objectives? Which name most accurately describes the company you have in mind? Which name do you like the best?
You could just go with your gut. Or you could do consumer research or testing with focus groups to see how the names are perceived. You could ask other people s opinions. Or you could doodle an idea of what each name will look like on a sign or on business stationery. Read each name aloud, paying attention to the way it sounds if you foresee radio advertising or telemarketing in your future.
Once your decision is made, start building your enthusiasm for the new name immediately. Your name is your first step toward building a strong company identity, one that should last as long as you re in business.