MSN Law Office

Trade Names, Fictitious Names, and DBAs

Trade Names, Fictitious Names, and DBAs Columbus, OH

Building a successful business is hard work. You need a great product or service, a marketing plan for getting the word out, skills in sales to convert your product or service into actual money, a head for numbers and finance, and innumerable leadership skills to tie it all together. Today, let’s talk about the marketing/branding piece. We’re often asked: Should my business name and brand name be the same? What is a DBA, and do I need one? And how do I file one here in Ohio? The Secretary of State doesn’t have a DBA form. And what is the difference between a trade name and a fictitious name?

DBAs (Trade Names)
A DBA or “doing business as” is what most people are referring to when they talk about a business name that is different from the brand name. For example, a restaurant group might collectively fall under the business name “John Smith Restaurant Group, LLC” but each individual restaurant (and these days, food truck) that falls under the group might be marketed under its own unique name such as “John Smith Seafood” and “J. Smith BBQ Truck.”

There may be lots of different reasons for doing this. If John Smith has built a great reputation as a chef and successful restaurateur, then the announcement for a new restaurant in the John Smith Restaurant Group could build a great deal of buzz compared to a new restaurant that isn’t part of the group. And while each individual restaurant may have its own unique marketing plan, perhaps the restaurants, as a group, share other resources such as overall management, employee training, or accounting. As long as there are no liability reasons for putting each concept into its own separate limited liability company or corporation, then the one business with separate brand identities could be a great marketing strategy for Mr. Smith.

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