If you’re forming a new LLC, you need to come up with a name for your business.
Your company’s name is incredibly important because it’s usually your first impression with prospective customers, and you want to start out on the right foot. There are also some important legal aspects to naming an LLC that you’ll need to keep in mind, or you could find that your company is not compliant with state regulations.
With this in mind, we created this article to help answer all of your questions about how to name a limited liability company. From the legalities to more practical matters, we’ll discuss every aspect of naming an LLC. If you want to confidently create a solid business name for your LLC, you’ve come to the right place.
How to Name an LLC: The Legalities
Let’s get the legal aspect out of the way first, shall we? Because each state has its own laws regarding the governance of limited liability companies, there can be some variance from state to state when it comes to the legalities of naming an LLC.
Still, most states have very similar rules and regulations for LLC names, so it’s safe to assume that the following rules will apply to your business.
The first legal aspect we’ll discuss is the fact that your LLC name must be unique, and cannot match any other business name already registered in your state. In fact, most states won’t even let you register a business name that’s similar to anything that’s already on the books. Furthermore, you need to be careful to avoid breaking copyright laws with your business name as well.
Next, your business name must include a designation that identifies your company as an LLC. This could mean putting the letters “LLC” at the end of your company name, or the words “limited liability company.”
Furthermore, you cannot use any initials or phrases that would indicate your company is a corporation or other type of business entity. In other words, you can’t include words like “corporation” or “incorporated,” and you can’t have abbreviations like “inc.” or “corp.”
Another important regulation is that you cannot include any verbiage that misleads people into thinking your business is any sort of specialized business type unless it actually is. This means you can’t call yourself a bank if you aren’t operating a financial institution, you can’t say that you’re a law office unless you’re an actual lawyer, etc.
How to Name an LLC: The Practicalities
Moving on to the practical aspects of naming a business, there are several things you’ll need to keep in mind regarding the marketability and advertising strategy of your company.
The first area we’d like to touch on is a rather simple one. Short business names are usually easier to remember than long ones, and they also lend themselves to easy integration with hashtags and social media handles ― which is an aspect that becomes more important with every passing day.
This next part might seem obvious, but it’s definitely worth discussing. You should make sure that your name looks good when written and sounds good when spoken. Too often, we see entrepreneurs choose business names that fulfill one or the other, but not both.
Keep in mind that your customers will (hopefully) be saying and writing your name frequently, and you don’t want your name to be awkward, confusing, or cumbersome in either of those settings.
One area we always try to stress to our readers is that you should come up with several different choices for your business name, in case one or more of them is already taken. It’s easy to determine whether a name is available in your state, as each state has an online database of every business name that’s registered there, and we’ll mention again that you should also check to make sure your desired name isn’t copyrighted in any way.
Another aspect you should at least consider is to briefly describe the nature of your business in your company name itself. If you own a plumbing business, you might want to include the word “plumber” in your business name, and if you are a photographer, the word “photography” gives prospective customers a clear idea of what your company actually does.
If your business operates according to any strongly held values, ideals, or missions, it can be a good idea to incorporate them into your business name. For example, if you are an environmentally conscious company, putting the word “green” in your name is a great idea.
Obviously, it’s best to avoid using potentially divisive terminology such as phrases with religious or political overtones (unless your business operates in these realms), because this can drastically cut your pool of prospective clients.
Reserving Your Business Name
If you find a name for your business that satisfies all of the recommendations in this guide, but you’re not yet ready to form your LLC, you should reserve the name with your state government. This prevents any other entrepreneurs from beating you to the punch and claiming the name you want.
Every state has a rather simple form you can fill out to reserve a business name, although you should find out how long the reservation lasts so that it doesn’t expire without your knowledge.
Reserving a business name has a nominal fee attached to it in each state, and in our opinion it’s well worth it to make sure your name is still available when you’re ready to start your LLC.
Overall, the process of naming a limited liability company doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming.
There are some common mistakes that you’ll need to avoid, but by following the advice in this guide, we think you’ll be able to come up with a great business name that satisfies both the legal and practical aspects.
One final piece of advice we’ll give is that you shouldn’t rush the process of choosing your business name. Give yourself enough time to be able to really think about the names you come up with. You don’t want to register the first name that comes to your mind, only to get sick of it quickly and regret the decision.
If you’re interested in using an online service to lock down your business’ name and form a company at the same time, take a look at Zen Business or Northwest.
We hope this article helped you focus on some of the most important aspects of naming a business, and we wish you nothing but the best with your LLC!