How To: Choose a Business Name
Updated: Mar 6, 2018
One of the most important and potentially challenging steps of starting a business is choosing a business name. For some, choosing a business name is simple, quick and obvious to the business owner. For others, it's a struggle to identify a business name that truly encompasses the business and everything it stands for.
While I'll leave the exercises on how to come up with a good business name to the creative experts (see 99 Design's article), I'll say a couple of things about actually choosing a name before getting to the due diligence you need to undertake after coming up with the name.
The name should be unique, appealing to your target market and easy to remember.
Don't choose a name in a vacuum — get out of the building and test it by asking prospective employees, partners, investors, customers, etc.
Remember that the word(s) that make up the company name serves as a part of the company's identity to its customers, suppliers, financiers and competitors.
The name should not limit the company from expanding its products at a later date
An important step that is often overlooked in the excitement of hitting upon the right name for the business is whether that name is already taken or close enough to another name to cause confusion.
Before moving forward with using a name, go through the following due diligence steps:
Alabama Secretary of State business entity database search
If during your search, you come across a name similar to your proposed business name that is already in use and/or trademarked, then there may be issues of trademark infringement should you decide to use that name. At that point, I recommend that you obtain the services of an intellectual property attorney to do a comprehensive trademark search and render an opinion on the availability and registerability of the proposed name. It is better to spend some money up front to determine whether your proposed business name is a good one rather than finding out you cannot use the name after spending thousands of dollars (sometimes tens of thousands) on marketing and building up the goodwill of your business name.
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