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Choosing a new business name is the quickest route to a do-over if there are problems with the original or you just need a corporate pick-me-up.
Maybe your original idea was already owned by someone else or a PR scandal makes customers cringe. Or maybe the name you chose is hard to pronounce, gets mixed-up often, or it's just time for a change. Whatever the reason, a new name is one of the easiest ways to rebrand a company.
Just because it's easy doesn't mean you don't need to do anything. A name change is cheap but there are still a few steps to follow.
If you're ready to change your business name, the first step is to pick a new name.
Once you've done the focus groups and asked friends about possible mix-ups or confusions, pick a couple of names you're happy with. Then it's time to get to work.
You can do a preliminary search yourself for whether the name you want is available. But it's probably a good idea to get a lawyer who can search for potential intellectual property infringement with the name you've chosen.
Keep that lawyer's number close because you'll probably want it again during the process.
Some states offer you the option of either changing the company's legal name or registering a 'Doing Business As' (DBA) name. Both require you to notify the state about the new name but a DBA means you don't have to change the business's name on other paperwork.
Talk to your attorney about which choice is right for your company.
If you choose to change the name entirely, mark the changes in your articles of incorporation and get ready to notify a lot of people. You need to send word to the Secretary of State, government agencies that have issued you licenses or permits, and the IRS.
Don't forget to tell your clients too so that they can still find you.
After all that is completed, make sure your contracts and other business documents are updated to reflect the new name. Then grab a drink and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
It may sound like a lot, but much of the heavy lifting can be handled by your business attorney. All you have to do is enjoy the compliments about how great your business is looking these days.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.