One of the most important parts of any business is its name. Your limited liability company’s name is your first impression with prospective clients, whether they hear about your business by word of mouth, drive past a billboard advertising your business on the freeway, or if they stumble upon your business as a result of a Google search.
One way to change your business name — or to add an additional name that your LLC can use interchangeably — is by filing a “doing business as” name application, commonly known as a DBA. There are many reasons to get a DBA — from marketing a new product line to granting a sole proprietorship the ability to use an assumed name — so this article will walk you through the process of registering a DBA for your Ohio LLC.
A solid name goes a long way in establishing your brand in customers’ minds. Doing Business As (DBA) names give you increased customization, flexibility, and versatility with your business identity. Once you're ready to lock it down, have ZenBusiness file all the paperwork.
Alternatively, if you’d rather just setup an LLC, we have a special discount running and will do it for $0 + state fee ($79 less than LegalZoom).
What Is a DBA?
To begin, let’s quickly run down what exactly a DBA is. One point of confusion we often hear about is that a DBA is not a business entity, like an LLC, corporation, sole proprietorship, general partnership, etc. Instead, you can think of a DBA as an add-on feature of sorts.
The DBA allows you to create alternate business names for your entity, which you can then use interchangeably with your LLC’s official business name. In addition, for informal business entities that don’t have exclusive business names (like sole proprietorships and general partnerships), a DBA can be a great way to inject some additional professionalism into a business venture.
But let’s talk strictly about LLCs, shall we? Why would an LLC want an additional business name? There are several potential reasons, although they obviously vary considerably depending on what your business does. One popular reason is to differentiate a new product line from a company’s existing offerings.
Let’s say that you own a business called “Fine Footwear, LLC” that produces high-end shoes. If you decide to also start a new product line that sells inexpensive flip-flop sandals, you might want a way to differentiate this brand from your core business. In this circumstance, you could register a DBA for “Flip-Flops by Fine Footwear,” and you can use this name to market your new products, while your original product line remains unaffected if your sandal side business fails.
It could also be helpful if you decide to expand your local business into a new market. For instance, if you own an Ohio-based plumbing business called “Cleveland Plumbing,” and you want to expand beyond Cleveland, you can register a DBA for “Cincinnati Plumbing” and use that name in the Cincinnati market.
The state of Ohio includes more protections for DBA names than most states do because, in most states, there is no exclusivity for a DBA. If another business decides that they want to use your DBA as their own name, many states allow them to do just that. However, this state provides more legal protection than most, requiring that all DBAs provide the business with “a right to exclusive use.”
How to Get a DBA for an Ohio LLC
First off, we’ll note that Ohio often refers to DBAs as “trade names,” so for the purposes of this article, we’ll continue to use both terms interchangeably.
The process for obtaining a DBA in Ohio starts with a business name search to determine whether the name you want to register is available for your use. Once you’ve determined the name’s eligibility, you can fill out the Name Registration form.
This document requires an indication that you are registering a trade name, the date you first used the trade name, the trade name you are registering, your LLC’s official business name, your LLC’s Ohio entity number, a description of the nature of your LLC’s business, your LLC’s business address, your name, your title, and your signature.
When you’re ready to file the form, you can submit it online, by mail, or by hand to the Secretary of State. No matter how you choose to file it, this document has a $39 filing fee. The state of Ohio typically processes business filings in 3-7 business days, but there are several expedited options available: $100 for two-day service, $200 for one-day service, or $300 for four-hour service.
To be honest, we often say that entrepreneurs shouldn’t bother with DBAs because they don’t provide any exclusivity for your business name. However, Ohio actually does a solid job in this regard compared to most states.
Ohio’s pledge to provide name exclusivity for any trade name registered here makes the DBA an interesting proposition in this state, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this option to any of our readers.
If you’re looking for a new way to market your LLC in Ohio, a DBA isn’t a bad idea.
Get a DBA for an LLC in all States
We break down the DBA filing process in every state. View all of our guides below.