Changing Your Business Name: What All Do You Need To Do?

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A Rose by Any Other Name…

There are numerous reasons one might consider changing the name of their business. Throughout history we are met by changes in company names. Mercedes Benz was once called Daimler Benz. They changed the name because a partner left and thus his name in the title was no longer relevant.

Perhaps you have experienced a partner leaving and want just your name up in lights? Or perhaps a bit of bad publicity requires you to make some alterations to the company brand or image for marketing reasons. Did you know that ‘Fanta’, a popular soft drink made by Coca Cola was actual formulated from a Hitler Youth guidebook after the war? I doubt they wanted to publicize that so they called it ‘Fanta’, a name seeming too exotic to be related to such an awful time in history.

In this economic crisis we’re experiencing, brand and image is everything. You need to get ahead of the competition with a memorable name change. Here’s how.

Picking the New Name

Choosing the right name is the first step.

The appropriate name is dependent on the business and the target market. If you own a solicitors firm, a professional title that will be respected within the industry and among clients will be required. However, if you sell balloons for birthday parties, a catchy name that says ‘Fun! Fun! Fun!’ is much better.

When a customer picks up your product in a store or spots your services online, what’s the first thing they’ll look for? The company name, of course. For that reason it’s important that your name is instantly recognisable to the consumer so that they trust in the business or the product and will be willing do business on repeated occasions.

One great way to name your business is to jot down a dozen or more words that describe your company. Mix and match. With each selection stand back and ask yourself, ‘Is this the name for my company?’ Also, get second, third and fourth opinions from friends and co-workers. Just because you like it doesn’t mean others will.

Remember, you’ll have to sell the name of your company to thousands, maybe even millions of customers.

Doing the Legwork

Now that you have a few of your best names for your business, it’s time to cross those fingers. You see, thousands of businesses are registered in the US each year; millions are registered worldwide. There is a chance that a person in a different state has already taken the name you thought up.

However, there are a few ways to check this. The first is a basic search. Type the name into Google or Yahoo! And see if a company under that name appears. If there are no companies under that name in the results, then you probably have the name, as nearly all businesses now have some form of online presence or media coverage. Then, use the following databases to see if the name is taken.

  1.… -- USPTO – Preliminary Search of Federal trademarks

If you pass these three hurdles then the name is 99% yours. Simply pay a visit to your Trademark office to see if there is a company registered to that name and if not; get in there quick!

Securing Your New Name

Securing your new business name basically consists of contacting the IRS (for USA) or other tax authority depending on your country. If you’re a sole trader, a simple letter to the IRS signed by you with your tax ID numbers etc will suffice. If you own a corporation or are in a partnership, when filling in your annual or monthly form for returns or VAT, there should be spaces allocated for a change in business name.

This is available on 1120 forms for corporations and 1065 forms for partnerships. Once this is returned to the IRS the name will be changed and you will receive notification. Given of the importance of a business name, the IRS are generally very quick with changing names and working alongside you.

Now that you have your new business name, it’s all down to successful branding and marketing along with a bit of Lady Luck.