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Starting a new business is an exciting venture. As your own boss, you have total control over your business, which means you can choose a business name that is special and meaningful to you. However, you have to take specific requirements to confirm your business name. 

This article will outline:

  • why a business name is essential;
  • some tips for choosing a great business name;
  • how to see if your business name has already been used; and
  • what to do if your name is not taken. 

Why is My Business Name Important?

Choosing a name for your business is a meaningful choice. You may want to build a broader brand with this name or expand into multiple industries. Your name will reflect your business’s values and goals, which will help attract customers. Additionally, you should ensure that your business name is professional and does not contain profanity or foul language. 

You should ensure your business name is a point of difference from competitors and makes you stand out. If customers are constantly confusing you with competitors, this may be detrimental to your overall business success and reputation. 

Choosing a Great Business Name

You should make sure that your name reflects the values and culture of your business. Write a list of all of the words and values you want to associate with your business. This could also be products you want to sell, a process you wish to implement, or the customers you want to attract. Centring these in your business name will clarify what your business represents and make you stand out to the right customers. 

You have several choices when choosing a business name. For example, you could invent an entirely new word for your brand (Google, for example) or join words together (Facebook). Another option is to use your own name in the brand or something else of significance (a date, time, or place) to you as the businessowner. For example, Apple got its name because founder Steve Jobs had just finished visiting an apple orchard – a special place for him – when he thought of the name. They wanted it to represent an un-intimidating technology company and felt the name was a great fit. 

It is best to come up with several potential names, eliminating unsuitable options as time goes on. This is better than being disappointed and starting again later down the road if a name is taken. 

Your business name can be different from your trading name. Your trading name is the name that you use publicly for your business. You can technically use anything for this name, but you make sure that you do not infringe on any trademarks, as this could cause further legal trouble if a business believes that you are attempting to pass your business off as theirs. Your registered business name is the name in the formal business register, and will be its legal name.

How Do I Check If Someone Else Has Used a Business Name?

To check if another business has the same name as you, go to the NZ government’s free ONECheck tool. This tool will allow you to search numerous government registers to see if your proposed name has already been used while also allowing you to check if it is used for a:

  • web domain;
  • trade mark; or
  • social media username. 

The tool checks the Companies Register, Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand, and the New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) register. Therefore, this covers companies specifically while also looking at a broader range of sole trader, charity, and partnership businesses that have registered NZBNs. 

This tool will also provide you with similar name results, allowing you to see if there are any names close to the one you are seeking for your business. You may wish to venture further away from an existing name to ensure a point of difference. 

Trade Mark Essentials in New Zealand

Our free Trade Mark Essentials in New Zealand guide explains how to register and defend your trade mark registration.

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What Happens If My Name is Available?

If your name or a similar one is not taken, you can go ahead and register your idea. This will allow you to reserve the name so only you can use it, use it as a domain name for your website, trade mark the name, and create a social media presence based on the name. 

Key Takeaways 

Choosing a business name is one of the most exciting parts of starting a business. However, you should put time into and think hard about ensuring that your business name accurately reflects your business and its values. Once you have come up with a few possible names, you should check them using the government’s ONECheck tool. This will allow you to see if the name, or a similar name, is being used by a business. 

If you need help with starting a business, our experienced business lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a name that is taken by another business?

If you use a name already taken by another business, you may be in violation of their trade mark. Additionally, if the business feels that you are attempting to misrepresent your business as theirs, they can make an additional claim against you. 

Do I need to put much thought into my business name?

Your business name is one of the most critical and public aspects of your business. Therefore, it is essential to make sure that you take the time and care to choose a name that represents your business accurately.


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