How to Name Your LLC

by Team ZenBusiness

- September 11, 2019 9:48 pm

Sometimes a business name arrives in the same “Eureka!” moment that the business idea itself does. Juan was pondering starting his own organic seeds company when the name “Takes Juan to Grow One” hit him like a lightning bolt. Other times a great business idea is there, but the perfect name hasn’t materialized. Whether you already have a name idea in mind for your limited liability company (LLC) or you’re drawing a blank, we have some guidance for you.

⭐ Be Unique

People misuse the word “unique” to mean “unusual,” but its actual meaning is “one of a kind.” Your LLC can’t have the same name as another business—not just because it’s good marketing, but because it’s also the law.

So how do you know if your brilliant business name hasn’t already been claimed? Googling the tar out of your proposed name is a good start, but most states have a searchable business name database on their secretary of state website. This allows you to quickly see if any other businesses in your state are using the name you want. Be aware that, although states have different rules about how different your LLC name must be from another company, most don’t consider miniscule changes to a name (e.g., adding an “s” to the name or changing up the punctuation) to be good enough to claim that your LLC is unique. 

You’ll also want to make sure your desired business name isn’t trademarked. To do so, or to trademark your own name, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. You can search their federal database to see what names are already claimed.

Make It Descriptive

Ideally, your LLC name should tell you something about what your business is and what you offer. That way, someone hearing your LLC name in conversation or seeing it on a sign as they drive by can immediately know what goods or services you’re selling and, if it’s something they want, make a mental note (or even pull over). 

Distinguish Yourself from Competitors

Putting a word or two in your name that tells you something extra about the company also sets you apart you from similar businesses. In researching your competition, what have you learned about them, and what will make your business different? 

Tim wanted to start a tree-trimming company, so he looked up other tree trimmers in the area and perused their customer reviews. A common complaint he saw was that the tree trimmers were frequently late or pulled no-shows. Tim, being a punctual fellow, dubbed his company “Tim’s Timely Tree Trimming, LLC.”

Words Are Fun

Did we mention that the naming process can be one of the most fun aspects of starting your LLC? Think of it as a word game. First brainstorm some words you associate with your business, as well as things like your name, location, etc. Then think about interesting ways you could fit those words together. You could rhyme them, use alliteration (putting together words starting with the same letter, as Tim did), or take parts of different words and stick them together (e.g., Amtrak, which comes from “American” and a deliberate misspelling of “track”).

Your name can capitalize on the familiar by using common expressions (remember Juan?) or references to classic literature or famous locales. It’s one more thing that helps make the name more memorable than just stringing together you and your LLC partner’s names. You can also find online business name generators to help get your creative juices going.

Think About Your Brand and Customers

When you think about your LLC, what is its overall goal and purpose (beyond profit)? What do you want to do for your clients, and how do you want to do it? What words do you want people to associate with your company? Have those words reflected in the name. If you’re a party planner, you want your LLC name to convey fun; if you have a funeral home, not so much (even though “fun” is right there in the name).

Make Worldwide (Web) Plans

If your LLC is to have a presence on the Internet (and it really should), you need a good, easy-to-spell-and-remember domain name, so you may want to factor that into your naming decision. Odds are your first choice of World Wide Web real estate is already claimed, so you may have to get creative. There’s also the possibility that whoever owns your coveted URL would be willing to sell it for a reasonable price.

⏳ Think Long Term

If you’re stuck for a unique business name, it can be tempting to stick the name of your city or town in front of the name to set it apart. But what happens if your business grows beyond your own neighborhood? Sure, “Boise in the Hood Custom Sweatshirts” is a clever name for your Idaho silk screening company, but what if want to branch out to other cities or even states? 

By the same token, if you sell a certain product or service and reflect that in the LLC name now, will it hinder you if you decide to expand and sell additional things later?

Abide by the Rules

Rules for LLC names vary by state, so you’ll have to check your particular state’s parameters to ensure your company name is in compliance. However, the following rules are common to many states:

  • End the name with “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations, like “LLC”  

Acceptable abbreviations vary by state.

  • Don’t try to pass yourself off as another business entity  

For example, don’t put “Inc.” in your LLC name.

  • Avoid words suggesting the LLC is for “an impermissible purpose” 

In other words, unless gambling is legal in your state, think twice before using the word “casino.”

  • Make sure you’re a licensed professional if your company name suggests that

Many states require licensed folks like attorneys, engineers, doctors, etc. to be part of an LLC if the LLC is using the words for those professions in its name. The same goes for banks and similar institutions.

Lock It Down

Once you’ve settled on the perfect (and available) LLC name, grab it before someone else swipes it! Most states will allow you to reserve a business name for a fee and a set amount of time (both of which vary by state) even before your filing is complete. When you’re ready check out our
name reservation service.

Choosing a name for your LLC can be fun, but cutting through the red tape of starting a business usually isn’t. Get started with ZenBusiness today to see how we can help turn your business concept and name into a reality.

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