How to Register Your Business Name, and Why!

You just decided on your new business name, and you’re ready to shout it from the rooftop! I bet you are. Congratulations!

Finding a business name is a fundamental first step to starting your own business. But now what?! What’s the next step?

Why Is Your Business Name So Important?

Your business name will be on everything you push out into the universe. So you better be prepared in all areas of your business!

  1. Your brand package (business cards, stationery, and office forms) will carry your business name. Don’t forget that all advertising and marketing materials will feature your business name too.
  2. Your business name is on all business documents. Make sure to update all formal legal documents. (Don’t forget about updating your name on your business loans.)
  3. Your business name will likely be in the domain name for your company’s website.

So, What Does Business Name Registration Mean?

The specific meaning of business name registration is to submit your business name to your province or state to get it on their registry of legal business names.

It’s a good idea to register your business name in two specific cases:

  1. If you are thinking about starting a business, but you are not yet sure what legal form you want, and you have a business name, register it. You can always change your mind later, but the registration process will save your name so others don’t use it.
  2. If you’re forming a sole proprietorship, you should definitely register your business name with the province or state.

Business Name Registration Is NOT…

Registering a business name is not the same as trademarking the name. You don’t have to have a trademark registered, unless you want to be sure others aren’t using your name.

What If I Don’t Register My Business Name?

If you do not register your business name you could run into a few issues.

Let’s say you want to use the name “Charlotte’s Pastry Castle,” and there is already a business in your state named Charlotte’s Pastry Chateau.

  1. The similar names can cause confusion with customers, vendors, and the public. For example, if there is a lawsuit against Charlotte’s Pastry Chateau, the public might think it’s your business!
  2. If Charlotte’s Pastry Castle has trademarked its business name, they could sue your business for trademark violation.

How Can I Be Sure I Can Use My New Business Name?

Before you start using a name, you’ll need to be sure no one else is using it by doing research on your business name.

It’s important to check the province or state business registrations, trademark databases. Once you have a sense you can use the name, it’s time to register it.

The term “registering a business name” may be confusing. There are really two different processes involved, and you will have to do both, in most cases:

  1. registration with your province or state, and
  2. registration with your local registry.

So, I’ll Need to Trademark My Business Name Too?

You may also decide that your name is so great that you want to make absolutely sure no one else takes it.

The way to do this is to trademark your business name. A word / name and logo are two separate trademarks. When filing a trademark with a logo you would file to separate trademark applications.

Woah! Feeling overwhelmed with your to-do list?

Here’s a few commonly asked Q + A’s to get you started:

Register your name

Most businesses need to register their business name with the government. Before registering your business name, it is important to decide what structure to use for your business (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation).

When do you need to register a business name?

If you are a sole proprietor operating a business under your legal name, you generally do not need to register your business name. In all other scenarios, you will need to register your name either as your legal corporate name or a trade name. You may also wish to register a trademark.

What about corporate names?

If you incorporate federally, you will have exclusive use of your corporate name across the country. See naming your federal corporation or start the incorporation process online.

But I’m registering a trade name other than my legal name, now what?

If you want to use a name other than your legal business name, you will need to register it as a trade name. Failing to register a name that you are using can result in significant fines and other legal consequences.

Naming can become a big project, but once you’ve got your foundation laid it’s pretty straight forward. If you’re just getting started make sure to follow our step-by-step naming process in the book, Brand New Name.

Got a question? We’re here, we’re happy to chat. Ask me anything!