When you go for a run on the weekend, do you proudly lace up your Blue Ribbon Sports sneakers — or your Nikes? After your run, do you refuel on a meal from Pete’s Super Submarines — or a Subway sandwich? Consider your emotional reaction to the smart, short names of Nike and Subway, and you can see why carefully naming a business is such an important step in your entrepreneurial path.
Nike and Subway, originally founded under the first names mentioned, decided to rebrand their businesses with new names because of this simple truth: The right name can elevate your business to a completely different level. And, once you land on that right name, it’s essential to protect it.
Start with an online search
Experts recommend starting by brainstorming several names that you would consider for your company, and then conducting an online search to determine if there are other companies with an online presence that are in the same business as yours with the same or similar name. This preliminary step could save complications and expense as you consider branding and logo creation.
Do comprehensive research
A desirable next step is to conduct a trademark search to ensure that no one else is using the name you have chosen in a similar business. This type of search is more comprehensive than an online search and will give you much more complete information about potentially conflicting business names. If you decide to go the extra mile to protect your business or brand name, you can register the name with the US Patent and Trademark Office, which would give you the ability to prevent others from using your name in your type of business.
Apply for a DBA
You can file a DBA (“Doing Business As”) application. A DBA allows you to receive payments and hold a bank account under your business name (a must-have if you are not operating under your personal name). Check with your state, as not all states require registration of a DBA.
You can also take steps to protect your personal assets by forming a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or other entity. Learn more about choosing a business structure.
Develop and claim online identities
Once you have followed the steps on how to register a business name, you can move on to the important step of developing your brand identity through a logo and other design devices, as well as claiming a business domain name for your website. Our digital commerce experts say that the most powerful URLs (your website address) are simple and easy to spell, plus give you enough flexibility to grow your offerings or services in the years ahead as your business potentially expands.
Once you’ve accomplished these steps, you’ll have established your own brand with a protected company name and, one hopes, a strong future.