Often, an LLC’s name changes are the result of expanding into new markets or industries. Changing the company’s name will help it better communicate these new products or services to potential customers.
However, changing an LLC name can be a complex process that requires the right resources and time. Here are some things to consider before making this important decision.
1. Make a List of Potential Names
When you’re forming an LLC, a good business name can help you gain traction in the market and maintain your competitive advantage for years to come. But it’s also important to pick a name that’s available in your state.
Luckily, most states have a searchable business name database on their Secretary of State website that makes it easy to check availability. However, you’ll want to go a step further by searching for your proposed business name in a variety of ways.
Be sure to check your LLC’s operating agreement or company charter for a formal process for changing the company name. It could involve holding a meeting with all stakeholders and submitting an official article of amendment. Fortunately, CorpNet can help you file all necessary documents and save you time and money.
2. Do Your Research
Using the search tools available online, you can make sure that your chosen LLC name is available as a domain and in your state’s database. This will prevent other businesses from infringing on your trademark rights and will help to avoid potential confusion among new customers.
A domain search can also give you an idea of how well your proposed name is likely to translate into a web address. Since this can be a key element in your marketing strategy, you’ll want to check on this before making your final decision.
It’s also important to remember that the LLC name you register with your state doesn’t necessarily need to match your company’s brand name. You can use a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name to promote your business, while retaining the LLC name for legal and financial documents.
3. Decide on a Name
Choosing your company name is a crucial decision, and you want to make sure that you select something that will stand out. You may want to consider using alliteration or a play on words, and it is also important that you pick a name that is memorable.
In addition, you will need to ensure that your LLC name is unique and complies with state requirements. Typically, this includes including required words and avoiding restricted words (e.g., banks, insurance, government).
Once you have your list of potential names, check that they are available for use by utilizing the business name database provided by your state. This will help you avoid the hassle of having to change your company name later on. Also, be sure to include a website URL when you choose your LLC name.
4. Create a Logo
When creating a logo, it’s important to consider where you will be displaying your business name. Will it be on a website, business cards, or marketing materials? If so, it’s a good idea to use a font that is easily readable in these applications.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your business name needs to include the entity designator (LLC, Limited Liability Company, etc.). Most attorneys we spoke to recommend that this is included in any forward-facing client communication such as invoices, contracts, websites, tax documents and more.
However, some people prefer to leave this off of their business logos and instead utilize a DBA or Fictitious Business Name (if allowed). These allow an LLC to operate under a different name without losing the liability protection it offers.
5. Get Legal
As you create your LLC, get legal advice about the name you want to use. Your lawyer can help you with the paperwork and ensure that no other companies already have the same name (and thus prevent a conflict).
You may also need to change your internal company documents, like your operating agreement and bylaws, to reflect the new name. Also, consider notifying anyone who you do business with, including federal and state agencies and any vendors.
Some states have restrictions on what you can include in your LLC name, such as words that imply a certain type of government organization, such as “city” or “township.” Other words are prohibited or require approval from the department of banking or insurance, depending on your industry.
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