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Wondering how to name your LLC? Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and the name for your business will come with the idea for the company itself. You might be struck with a double dose of inspiration where you’re hit with the best name for the best business all at once. Not everyone has that moment, though.
Sometimes you get an excellent idea for a business, but you can’t think of a name for it right away. Whether you’ve already come up with a good name for your limited liability company (LLC) or need a helping hand, keep this guideline on how to name your LLC in mind.
LLC Name Should be Unique
Despite what some people might think, there’s a big difference between being “unique” and being “unusual.” The idea of uniqueness is that of being “one of a kind.” You can’t give your LLC the same name as an existing business. It would be bad for marketing for a start, but it’s also against the law anyway.
How can you tell if someone else hasn’t already come up with your masterful business name then? Well, it’s always a good idea to first search for the name online to see if you get any hits. Most states also have their own searchable databases where you can look up business names. Check out the website for your secretary of state to find the one for you. Using this search engine means that you can quickly check to see if any business in your state exists with that name or note.
Please keep in mind that while different states can have different rules on how much different from another company, you should practice some common sense. It’s not enough to change up the name a little or change the punctuation and have that be good enough. No state is going to allow you to create a business called Burger Kings, for example.
Now you’ll want to check to ensure that no one else has trademarked your name already. You can do this by visiting the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You’ll have to go there to trademark the name for yourself anyway. While you’re there, check through the federal database to see which names have been claimed already.
It Should be Descriptive
The name of the LLC should speak to what the business is and what it offers. This way, when someone hears the name of the LLC or they see it on a sign, they get a good idea of what kind of services and products you are selling. If it’s something they want, then they’ll make a mental note to check it out later, or even pull up and get their shopping done right then and there.
It Should Stand Out
Adding a few words about what the business does can also help you to stand out from similar companies. You should have done some research on your competition. What did you learn about them? How is your business going to be different?
Let’s say you were interested in starting a tree-care company. You find out more about the tree trimmers near you, and you read through their reviews. You see that they have a bad reputation for being late. You can use this to your advantage. Name the business something that references that, like “Timely Tree Trimmers.”
Have Fun With It
While naming a business can seem stressful, it’s one of the more fun parts of getting to start an LLC. Try to have some fun with it and see it as a word game. Brainstorm some ideas and words that you associate with the business and things such as your name and location. Think about some fun ways you can bring it all together.
There are several things you can do, such as using alliteration (having each word start with the same letter), make the name rhyme, or create a portmanteau of different words. Many businesses are named after portmanteaus, such as Amtrak, a combination of “American” and “Track.”
Capitalize on the familiar with your business by using standard expressions or referencing famous locales and classic literature. This is going to make the name more memorable than if you’d just combined the names of your partners. There are also plenty of online resources, including business name generators.
Think About the Customers and Overall Brand
What would you say is the ultimate purpose of your LLC? What’s your goal? Outside of making a profit, of course. What is it that you’ll be doing for clients? How will you do it? What words might people associate with your business? Can you use those words in the name? Let’s say you have a party planning business; you’ll want the name to be something fun and exciting. The exact opposite is true for something like a funeral business.
Plan Around the Internet
If you are going to have an online presence with your business (and of course you are because every business should), then you need a name that’s easy to spell and remember. You may even want to think about that during the decision making process. There’s a good chance that someone has already claimed the website that you want to make, so you might need to get creative about it. Of course, you can also contact the person who owns the URL you wish to and try to negotiate for it. If your idea is that good, it would be worth buying it off of someone else.
Consider the Long-Term
If you’re having trouble thinking of a name for your LLC, then you might be tempted to include the name of your town or city to make it stand out. What happens if you expand outside of the neighborhood, though? It can be smart to include the name of your city in the name of your LLC, but it loses a lot of impact when you have a chain in another area, and people don’t get the joke.
This also includes the names of any products or services. You can add them in the name to make coming up with a name easier, but what if you expand your business offerings? Think about the long-term when crafting a name for the LLC.
Follow the Rules
Different states can have their own rules when it comes to naming LLC businesses. You should check the rules for your state to ensure that you comply with them. Here are some of the rules that are present in most states though;
- The name should end with “limited liability company” or an abbreviation such as “LLC” – different states have different rules on acceptable abbreviations.
- Don’t attempt to pass yourself off as an existing business entity – you have an LLC, don’t put “Inc.” in the business name.
- Avoid suggesting that the LLC is for something illegal – don’t use a word like “casino” unless your business is a gambling institution, and gambling is legal in your state
Most states will require licensed people such as attorneys, doctors, and engineers to be part of an LLC if they have a name relating to that profession. That also applies to institutions such as banks.
Lock it Down
You’ve found the ideal name for your business and – better still – no one else has claimed it yet. Now you need to lock it down for yourself before anyone steals it away from you. You can usually reserve a business name – for a nominal fee – for some time while you prepare the official paperwork. If the idea is that good, it’s worth paying the fee to make sure you will get to use it when the time comes.
Picking the right name for an LLC can be a fun and enjoyable process if you take it with the right approach. Make sure that the name is unique and get it registered before someone else does!