The name you choose for your business is significant. It defines your brand and differentiates your company from the competition. But if it isn’t helping you achieve these goals, or you’ve decided to chart a different course for your company, it may be time to find a new name for your business.
But how do you change your business name? And, if you operate an LLC or a corporation, can you change the name of your business?
Let’s explore these and other business name change FAQs.
When would I want to change my company’s name?
There are several reasons why you may wish to change your company’s name. You may want to appeal to a new audience, reflect an expansion of your offerings or location, or perhaps you acquired a new business. Another common reason for a name change is a brand refresh or a desire to attract a new generation of customers. Negative publicity is also a prompt for a name change. Or maybe you just chose the wrong name when you formed your business and it’s time for something new.
Can I change the name of my LLC or corporation?
Yes. To change the name of your LLC or corporation, you will need to file “Articles of Amendment” with your state. Once approved, you can start operating under the new name.
However, there are a few steps you should take first which we cover next.
How do I change my LLC or corporation’s business name?
Name amendment requires proper research. Follow these four steps to properly amend the name of your LLC or corporation.
1. Approve a “Resolution to Change Business Name”
The name change must first be approved by the owner or members of the LLC, or in the case of a corporation, the shareholders. Refer to your LLC operating agreement or corporation bylaws to check how these matters are to be handled.
2. Check that the name is available in each state where you operate
Conduct an official inquiry to see that your new name is available in the state(s) where you do business. In addition to state business entity law naming rules, you will need to verify that your new business name does not infringe on another business’ trademark rights. If your LLC or corporation name will be used as a trademark you may want to protect its rights too. A trusted advisor who is familiar with trademark law can help you with that.
3. Research each state’s naming provisions
Naming requirements vary by state so you will need to ensure your new business name is compliant. For instance, all states prohibit the use of certain words (which vary from state to state). They also limit the use of names that are “deceptively similar” to an existing name. Most states also require the business to identify its business type, such as “LLC” or “Inc.”
4. Prepare your Articles of Amendment
With all these boxes checked you can now prepare your Articles of Amendment, pay applicable fees, and file them with the state.
Why are Articles of Amendment important?
Filing Articles of Amendment is the only way to notify the state of your desire to change the legal name of your business. They also demonstrate consent from essential members of your company, if director, shareholder, or officer ratification is required. The name change is only official once the Article of Amendment is approved.