What you name your business is important because a name helps define its identity. If chosen correctly, a name will be easily remembered by potential clients and partners and promote your goods and services. A C corporation is a legal business entity that is distinct from its shareholders, protecting the shareholders from being personally liable for the business’s debts and obligations. A C corporation is the most popular form for companies that want to go public. So the right name can not only help your bottom line, but your eventual stock price as well.
Choose a name that relates to the business or the ownership in some meaningful way. Your corporate name should evoke the sort of response that you want your customers to feel when using your product or service. When choosing a name, consider how it sounds and how it will separate you from other competitors in your industry. Think about how it will look on business cards, letterhead and signage. Avoid choosing a name with a bizarre spelling or that has a negative or biased connotation. Do not let your name imply an association with any person or organization that is not related to the corporation.
Read More: How to Find a Corporation's Public Records
Check the business entity database where you plan to register the business. A C corporation forms by registering with a state. A business is generally prohibited from having the same name as a business that has already formed in the proposed incorporating state. Most secretary of state websites have online corporate name databases where you can check the availability of a proposed name.
Do an Internet search to ensure the name or something similar is not already in use. The use of any search engine will allow you to cheaply and quickly see how your name is being used on the Internet. Even if no other business has the name, your choice may be in online use in a way that would be unflattering to your business. In that case you may want to make another choice.
Check a website registrar to ensure that there is a website address available. You can either type the website address into your browser and see what page comes up, or use one of the many domain registrars available online.
Check intellectual property databases to guard against infringement. The Thomas Register is a free online listing of unregistered trademarks in the US. The US Patent and Trademark Office allows you to search for federally registered trademarks on its website.
Once you have found an appropriate name, be sure to register with your state and the US Trademark Office to secure it for your business’s sole use.
If you are planning on incorporating your business, consider using a licensed attorney or online document provider to help you make the appropriate state filings.
- Illinois Secretary of State: Corporation/LLC Search/Certificate of Good Standing
- New York Department of State, Division of Corporations, State Records & UCC: Search the Corporation & Business Entity Database
- California Secretary of State Debra Bowen: Business Search
- Thomas Register Online
- United States Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark Electronic Search System
John Cromwell specializes in financial, legal and small business issues. Cromwell holds a bachelor's and master's degree in accounting, as well as a Juris Doctor. He is currently a co-founder of two businesses.