What’s In A Business Name?

Consider your business name carefully; you’ll have to live with it for a long time. The name should give people some idea of the nature of your business and should also project the image you want to have. Names can be simple, sophisticated, or even silly. Try to pick one that will grow with your business and not limit you in the future.

Along with a name, many businesses also develop a logo, which provides a graphic symbol of the business. As with the name, your logo should be carefully developed to project the image you want for your business.

Once you come up with a name, make sure it is not already in use. You can look up current business names in the local telephone book, local government offices, trade directories, the Federal Trademark Register, or listings of corporate business names from the secretary of state, or you can hire someone to do a search. You may want to obtain a trademark from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to protect your business name and logo.

If your business name includes your last name, you may not need to register it. However, if the name you have chosen does not contain the last names of all the owners, you must file a fictitious business name statement. This is also necessary if the business name implies greater ownership with such words as “and company,” or “associates,” or “and son/daughter.”

File your fictitious business name statement with the county clerk and then publish it in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for four successive weeks in the county where the principal place of business is located. (Newspaper costs for publication may vary widely, so some shopping around is in order.) An affidavit of publication must be filed with the county clerk within thirty days after publication.