LLC Name vs. Business Name: What’s the Difference?

Not sure of the difference between LLC name vs. business name? Trust us; you are not alone. Figuring out how to name your LLC and protect your brand can be tough. After all, there are many ways to register your business, and the entire process is a bit mysterious.

Fortunately, this guide will reveal what you need to know about an LLC name vs. business name. Let’s dive in!

What Is a Legal Business Name?

Your business name is like your company’s handshake; it’s the first thing people learn about your business. Legally speaking, your business name can be registered as an LLC or a corporation. If you choose to operate as a sole proprietor, your business name could even be your own name.

However, as a sole proprietor, your personal assets could be at risk in certain situations. That’s why many entrepreneurs register their business name as a limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or some other business entity. By registering your venture as an LLC or other type of business, you can protect your personal assets. 

What Is an LLC Name?

An LLC name is the official name registered for your limited liability company. When selecting this name, you’ve got to comply with certain legal requirements. For instance, you can’t pick one that’s already in use by another LLC in your state.

Forming an LLC and naming your business provides legal protection for your assets. While you don’t have to make your business an LLC, it’s a good idea to protect your personal assets, such as your savings, vehicles, and house. 

An LLC serves another purpose as well. It captures your company’s identity and gives you the right to use the name for marketing and advertising purposes. If you want to transform your venture into a successful business, you need a great LLC name. Once you form a registered LLC, you can use the name for just about anything you want, including making branded merch and business cards for your customers. 

How to Choose an LLC Name?

The LLC name you choose will impact your business, marketing strategy, and ability to build a brand. Therefore, you need to choose one that is memorable, unique, and relevant to what you do. This is easier said than done. Fortunately, there is plenty of inspiration out there on the Internet.

Check out the list of LLC name ideas, brainstorm with friends and family, or ask a generative AI platform to help you come up with some concepts. Keep an open mind, and try to get a list of at least five options before you register.

If you change your mind, you can always alter the name of your LLC later. That said, doing so can be tedious. Besides, someone might come in and swoop up the name you liked before you get a chance to file for the change.

How to Register Your LLC Name?

Registering is easy, especially compared to choosing a name for your LLC. You can apply for an LLC online and see whether the name you want is available. You’ll also need to file documents with your state’s business filing agency and pay a fee. This process varies slightly by state, so make sure to check your local requirements.

Unfortunately, some state websites are a bit confusing and outdated. The good news is that you can use a third-party platform to register your entity as a limited liability company. Platforms like doola make registering your business entity a breeze so you can focus on doing what you do best: serving customers. 

How to Protect Your LLC Name?

Protecting your LLC name is not just a matter of pride; it’s also a strategic business move that is essential for your brand’s longevity and uniqueness. There are many ways to protect your LLC name, including the following:

  • Trademark registration: Registering your trademark name is your first line of defense against unauthorized use of your brand. 
  • Monitor your brand: Continuously monitor the internet for possible infringements.
  • Enforce your rights: If you find another company using your LLC name or a knockoff, act quickly.
  • Renew your trademark: Renew your trademark to show it is still in use.
  • Consider state-level registration: Register your LLC name as a trademark at the state and federal levels.
  • Seek legal advice: Consult with an intellectual property attorney to protect your LLC name.

When you have a great idea, such as a captivating LLC name, other people might try to take advantage of it for personal gain. While this is unfortunate, there are a lot of steps you can take to protect your intellectual property. The actions listed above will discourage unauthorized use and give you legal recourse if someone is abusing or misusing your intellectual property. 

What Is a Trade Name?

A trade name, or a fictitious business name, is the name under which a business operates that differs from its legal name. Think of it as your LLC’s nickname. For instance, people named Matthew will often go by “Matt.” Likewise, you can register a full legal name for your business and use a shorthand version for marketing and branding purposes. 

Suppose that you own a flower shop and register your LLC name as “Sunflower Flower Shop” but then want to use “Sunflower Shop” for marketing and advertising purposes. In this instance, Sunflower Flower Shop is your legal name, and Sunflower Shop is your trade name. 

What Is DBA (Doing Business As)?

DBA stands for “Doing Business As.” It’s a declaration that lets the public know the true owner of a business. If your business operates under a name different from its legal LLC name, you’ll likely need to file a DBA. It acts as your company’s stage name, while the LLC name is its legal name. 

At first glance, a DBA and trade name sound similar. That’s because they are. However, if your trade name is closely related to that of your LLC, such as in the example above, you may not have to file a DBA. Generally, you should file a DBA if your trade name is substantially different from your LLC name. Think of a DBA as a means of declaring your trade name. 

A DBA is necessary when you’re entering a new line of business that isn’t reflected by your current LLC name. For instance, suppose that you want to open a chocolate shop across town but manage the entity under your flower shop’s LLC. Since the new products and services don’t align with the LLC name, you’ll need a DBA.

Filing a DBA is meant to let customers know who is actually operating a business. The goal is to maintain transparency and build trust. 

LLC Name vs. Business Name: Which Do You Need? 

Differentiating between an LLC name vs. business name will help you protect your venture and legally register your entity. However, there are other naming and registration options to choose from as well, including an LLP and a corporation. The question is, which one is right for you?

At doola, we can help you decide which business formation strategy best aligns with your goals and objectives. We provide bespoke LLC business formation services designed to support your entrepreneurial endeavors. If you’d like to get started, connect with our team today and explore our LLC resources. 


Can I change my LLC name after it is registered?

Yes, you can change the name of your LLC after you register it. However, you’ll have to follow the same rules as you did when registering your original name. Specifically, you need to make sure that the new name isn’t already taken, fill out another application, and provide some basic information about the reason for the change. 

Is it necessary to register a DBA (Doing Business As) if I already have an LLC?

If you plan to conduct business under a name different from your registered LLC name, then yes, you should register a DBA. If not, then you can continue working under your existing LLC. 

Do I need a separate EIN (Employer Identification Number) for my business name and LLC?

No, you don’t need a separate EIN for each. Your LLC’s EIN covers your business operations, regardless of the name used. However, make sure to file the appropriate DBA forms for each unique business venture so you can be transparent with your customers. 

Can I trademark my business name if it is the same as my LLC name?

Absolutely! In fact, trademarking your business name, even if it’s the same as your LLC name, is a smart way to protect your brand. We suggest connecting with an intellectual property attorney to find out more about trademarking and taking other steps to protect your brand name. 

Can I have multiple business names under one LLC?

Yes, an LLC can operate under multiple business names, usually by filing a DBA for each additional name. However, if your ventures are very different from one another and complicated, it may be beneficial to file a separate LLC and obtain a unique EIN for each entity. This will help with tracking your finances and end-of-year tax filing processes. 

doola's website is for general information purposes only and doesn't provide official law or tax advice. For tax or legal advice we are happy to connect you to a professional in our network! Please see our terms and privacy policy. Thank you and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Start your dream business and keep it 100% compliant

Turn your dream idea into your dream business.