Choosing a business name is one of the first big decisions that a small business owner will make. Selecting the right name is an important decision, as it will distinguish your company from competitors. Furthermore, an excellent name enables your customers to better identify your company and its value to them. This article discusses some of the issues around business names and sets out four tips to help you make the right choice.

What is a Business Name?

A business name is the name under which your business operates. Unless you decide to trade under your own name, you will be required to register this name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). This is in contrast to a legal name, which can be different to your business name and is usually determined by your business structure. The table below sets out some examples of when you are and are not required to register a business name.

Business Structure Legal Name Business Name Business name registration required?
Sole Trader Mary Smith Mary Smith’s Desserts Yes
Sole Trader James Johnson James Johnson No
Partnership Robert Smith and Maria Garcia Robert and Maria’s Shoe Repair Yes
Partnership Sarah Brown and Nancy Wilson Sarah Brown and Nancy Wilson No
Company Nails and Beauty Pty Ltd Vibrant Nails Yes
Company Hot Sauces Pty Ltd Hot Sauces Pty Ltd No

 

It is important to be aware that registering your business name does not stop other traders from using the same or a similar name. If you want the exclusive use of your business name, then consider registering it as a trade mark.

1. Choose a Name That is Unique

Your business name should be distinct enough so that your customers can distinguish your business from other traders. Think about what makes your business unique from competitors and which words reflect the products and services that your business will provide.

For example, while the name ‘Sydney Cleaning Service’ communicates what service the business provides, it may be seen as too generic and vague by its customers.

One way of creating a unique name is to use modified versions of keywords that relate to the products or services that your business provides.

For example, the technology brand ‘Xerox’ is an abbreviation of the word ‘xerography’ (with an x at the end), which is a dry photocopying technique.

You may also consider combining your name and initials with those of any other owners.

As an example, the sportswear brand ‘Adidas’ is a combination of the founder’s nickname, ‘Adi’, and the first three letters of his last name, ‘Das’.

2. Choose a Name That is Simple

While you want your business name to be unique and stand out from your competitors, you also want your customers to remember your name. Avoid choosing a name that is too long or complicated, as customers are likely to forget.

Ideally, your business name should be easy to pronounce and sound familiar to your customers.

3. Check if Your Proposed Business Name is Available

Once you have decided on a potential name for your business, you should ensure that it is not already taken. While it is possible for a business name to be used by multiple businesses (unless they have registered it as a trade mark), it is in the best interest of your business and brand to choose a name that is not already being used.

You can check to see if your proposed business name is available to register here.

4. Check if the Domain Name is Available

Similar to tip three, you should check to see if your proposed business name is available to register as a domain name. This is especially crucial if you are planning to have a website.

For example, if your proposed business name is ‘Mary Smith’s Desserts’, you may want your domain name to be ‘marysmithsdesserts.com.au’. However, do not feel like you have to give up a good business name if the exact domain name is not available. You can always try modifying your domain name slightly and have it still relate to your business (e.g. ‘marysdessertsonline.com.au’).

You can check to see if your proposed domain name is available to register here.

Key Takeaways

Choosing a name for your business is an important decision, but not something to lose sleep over. Some tips that might make your choice easier include:

  • choosing a name that is unique and will distinguish your business from other traders;
  • choosing a name that is simple for your customers to remember easily;
  • checking if your proposed business name is available; and
  • checking if the domain name is available.

And, of course, share your ideas with your family and friends to help you choose. If you have any questions, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Graci Chen
If you would like further information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please get in touch using the form on this page.
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