How to Choose a Business Name

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Choosing a company name can be a daunting task. Since there are certain guidelines you must follow for an incorporated company, it's important that you know how to pick a business name.

Once you have a name in mind, we can do a free name check for you to see if it is available.

 

Your Company Name

For Both LLCs and Corporations:

Choosing a company name when starting an LLC or corporation can be a time-consuming and difficult task. There are many things you have to think about because, when you choose a business name, you create the foundation of your brand identity. You should consider how your company name will look, not only in print but also on a logo, on a sign, on business cards and on social media. Consider what the name evokes or implies. Do you want it to be a casual or professional sounding company name? Is your name clear and meaningful to your potential customers/clients? Are you communicating the correct philosophy, culture or message to your target audience? Keep in mind there are Delaware corporation name requirements that differ from the Delaware LLC requirements.

 

Types of Business Names:

When choosing your new business name, consider what kind of message you’d like it to convey. A good starting point is to decide if you’d prefer a descriptive name or a name with a less obvious association. Descriptive names that utilize keywords in your industry will have a head start on conveying the goods or services that you provide. For example, “John Doe’s Automotive Shop” immediately conveys to the consumer what they can expect from your business, while a name like, “John Doe’s Shop” is a bit more vague.

Names without a clear message can also work. Sometimes called “empty vessels,” brand names that don’t really make sense in the context of their goods or services (Google, Apple, McDonald’s) instead have greater flexibility and adaptability. These names also reduce the risk of becoming outdated or irrelevant as industries evolve. Nevertheless, the lack of immediate clarity or association with your industry can also be a challenge for smaller businesses without much capital.

How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Business:

Deciding on your website’s domain name is almost as important as choosing the name of your company. Try to get a domain that’s similar or nearly identical to the name of your business. This is an easy way to make your brand name more memorable to new customers. Similarly, you may also want to consider choosing a domain that is relevant to your industry. This can help potential customers or clients understand what your company does just by looking at the URL.

Before you finalize your company name, make sure you can buy a high-quality domain name to go hand-in-hand. Your URL address should be close to your company name or highly relevant in your vertical so your customers can easily find you online.

Small Business Naming Tips:

Taking your time when naming your small business is important, as your company name has the power to attract new customers all on its own. Here are a few small business naming tips that can help you along the right path:

  • Create a business name that’s descriptive to your products or services
  • Descriptive is good, but try not to make a business name that’s too long
  • Try not to create a complex or hard to spell name
  • Try not to pick a name too similar to another local competitor
  • Make sure an associated domain is available

 

Once you decide on your company's name, Harvard Business Services, Inc. can complete a free Delaware name check for you to make sure it is available.

check a company name for free

LLC vs INC: Company Endings and Abbreviations

Your company suffix is another important part of choosing a business name that needs to follow a specific list of guidelines. Depending on whether you're creating an LLC, corporation, or any other type of business entity, there will be entirely different guidelines for when you choose a company suffix.

Approved suffixes for Delaware limited liability companies

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.  
  • Limited Liability Company

Approved suffixes for Delaware corporations

When choosing a business name, it must contain one of the corporate endings below, or abbreviations thereof, with or without punctuation. For example, 'Inc.' (with period) and 'Inc' (without period) are both permitted company suffixes. Words that are recognized as corporate endings in other countries can also be used in your Delaware company name.

  • Association 
  • Company 
  • Corporation 
  • Club 
  • Foundation 
  • Fund 
  • Incorporated
  • Institute
  • Limited
  • Society
  • Union 
  • Syndicate

If the name of your corporation contains words from any language other than English, you must submit an English translation of the name upon filing.

For example:

  • Sociedad Anonima (S.A.) which basically translates into "public company" or "corporation," is often used in countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, and the Virgin Islands. 
  • Societe Anonyme is the version often used by companies in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg.  Companies in Switzerland may use Societe Anonyme or Societe Anonima.
  • Aktiengesellschaft or Akteingesellschaften (AG) for publicly traded companies or corporations is often used in Germany and Austria.

Requirements for Delaware public benefit corporations

A Delaware public benefit corporation has some additional options beyond the standard company suffixes for corporations. These include:

  • Public Benefit Corporation
  • PBC
  • P.B.C.
  • any of the Delaware corporation endings mentioned above

Restrictions on Your Delaware Company Name

Delaware, similar to other states, has restrictions on certain words and phrases which cannot be used in a company name without prior approval.

Corporations:

When choosing a business name for your Delaware corporation it cannot contain the words "bank," "trust," "university" or "college," unless you get pre-approval from the Delaware Banking Commissioner or the Delaware Secretary of Education.

Your corporation's name cannot contain any words that may, in the judgment of the Delaware Secretary of State, be degrading, vulgar or unacceptable. The Secretary of State has full veto power over any name deemed unacceptable.

Your corporation's name must not be the same as any other company name that is formed or reserved in the state of Delaware. However, even the slightest variation can qualify. If you want to form a corporation using all the words in another company's name, you can simply add a Roman numeral or another word to make your name unique.

Limited Liability Companies:

When choosing a business name for your Delaware LLC, it must not contain the word "bank" or any variation thereof without prior approval of the Delaware Banking Commissioner. It cannot contain a word that purports to do banking business that might mislead the public, in the judgment of the Secretary of State. The same goes for choosing a business name that implies you are a law office or medical facility.

Your LLC name cannot contain any words that may, in the judgment of the Secretary of State, be degrading, vulgar or unacceptable. The Secretary of State has full veto power over any name deemed unacceptable.

Your LLC name must not be the same as any other company name that is formed or reserved in the state of Delaware. However, even the slightest variation can qualify. If you want to form an LLC using all the words in another company's name, you can simply add a Roman numeral or another word to make your name unique.

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