If you are starting a business and considering forming a limited liability company (LLC), at some point you’ll have to choose an LLC name. Your company’s business name is often the first impression clients have of your brand, so you want to make it something unique and appealing. This article will provide you with tips and guidance to help you get started.
Tips for Naming Your LLC
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words.
When choosing a business name, it’s important to consider the following points.
1. Legal requirements
Every state has its own LLC name regulations.
Check to make sure the name is available
You can’t use a name that’s nationally trademarked or already being used by another business in your state. Once you have a few potential names, check your Secretary of State’s website to confirm they are available to register. All states have a business name search tool, so you’ll just need to enter your name to see if the name or similar names are being used. Then check to see if the name has been trademarked at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website.
To check business name availability in the state where you plan to form a business, choose your state from the list below. You will see if your proposed company name is too similar to a name already held.
Your LLC name shouldn’t be misleading
Your state’s regulations will require that your name not be misleading. Generally, your name should not be easily confused with a government entity, or imply that your business does anything other than what’s stated in your articles of organization.
Your business name must contain a term that identifies your business entity type. For an LLC you must include “LLC,” “limited liability company”, or “limited liability”, in the name.
Most states restrict certain words from being included in your LLC name, such as “bank” and “university,” and possibly profanity as well.
Check with your state for specific requirements.
2. Choose a strong name
You’ll want a memorable name. One that will stand out and never be confused with another business. Think of Google or Twitter. Those are strong, unique business names. They’re hardly even real words, yet both are household brands you’ll never forget.
3. Easy to say and spell
You don’t want a name that no one knows how to pronounce! Make your name easy to say and spell so customers can find your business. Google, Amazon, Apple. Keep it simple.
4. Make it relevant to your product or service offerings
Sometimes, depending on your type of business, you’ll want your name to say what you offer. If you’re opening a dry cleaning business, for instance, you’ll want a name that indicates what you do. Thus, “Spotless Dry Cleaners” would likely be a better choice than “Spotless”.
5. Avoid location-based names
A location-specific name may sound appealing, but it’s often not the best idea long-term, as you may want to expand. What if your business is called “Cleveland Dry Cleaning” and you have a great opportunity to open a new shop in Cincinnati? That could be problematic.
6. Include keywords in the name
Use words in your name that will help you get found on Google, particularly if you have an online business. For example, if you have an online electronics store and use “electronics” in your name, people are more likely to find your site when they search for electronics.
7. Use online name generation tools
If you have trouble coming up with a name, use an online name generation tool like this one. Just enter a few keywords related and the tool will generate hundreds of suggestions.
8. Make it domain name ready
You’ll want to use your LLC name as your domain name so that your business can be easily found online. Find out if the domain name is available using a domain name search tool.
9. Make it social media friendly
Choosing a name that’s catchy can get your business noticed on social media. Shopify is an example of a name that’s catchy and can be easily hash-tagged.
Using a DBA
If after you have named your LLC you realize you’d like to do business under a different name, don’t stress! All you need to do is register a DBA, or “doing business as.” Simply put, a DBA is a name registered for a company to do business under that is not its legal business name. Here’s how to add a DBA to an LLC.
For example, you may have an LLC called “Smith Enterprises”, but you do business under the name of “Smith’s T-Shirts”. A DBA name is also sometimes called a fictitious name or a trade name.
Legally, an LLC has no limits on the number of fictitious business names it can file for. Multiple DBAs can be good when you offer numerous products and services.
Remember, your business name reflects your identity, so choose one that fits the brand that you want to build. Whether you choose to do business with your LLC name or with a DBA, your name is one of the most important decisions you will make.
LLC Naming FAQs
Can I change my LLC name?
In most states, you can change the name of your LLC by filing articles of amendment. Each state has different procedures and fees to do so. Your other option is to register a “doing business as” or DBA. A DBA name is one that you do business under that is not your LLC name.
Should I name my LLC after myself?
You can name your LLC after yourself if you choose. Just remember that it’s best to choose a business name that’s unique, catchy, and easy to remember.
Does your LLC name have to match your business name?
If you want to do business under a name that’s not your LLC name, you’ll generally need to register a “doing business as” or DBA name. States and localities have different rules and procedures for DBA names, so check with your local governments for requirements.
Are LLC names governed by state law?
Yes, every state has different regulations regarding LLC names. You’ll need to check with your state government for the specific requirements in your state.
What is an example of an LLC name?
Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC is a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Here are some famous LLC companies.
Do I have to put LLC on my logo?
You do not have to use LLC in your logo or marketing materials. You must, however, use LLC on all official business documents and contracts.
Should I Get a Trademark or LLC First?