Applying to incorporate or register a business in Saskatchewan starts with a name search. The purpose of the name search is to ensure the business name meets certain standards and is not too similar to those of existing businesses.
A good business name will act as an effective marketing tool by helping customers understand what it is that your business does and primarily offers.
Think about how you want your business to be perceived. If you are selling to industrial clientele, a strong, descriptive name may be used to provide potential customers with a clear understanding of what your company does (e.g. Jet Blast Inc., Noise Cancellation Technologies). If you are selling to individual consumers, choosing a name that brings a lasting image may be profitable (e.g. Titanic Salvage, Timbuktu Tours, Sahara Sandblasting).
When developing your business name, consider the following:
Your name must include both a descriptive and distinctive element.
The descriptive element explains the nature of your business and what you provide to customers. The distinctive element distinguishes you from competitors who may be providing similar products or services. Think about who you are selling to and how easily they will remember your name. Also, evaluate your competitors’ names to ensure your name is unique.
Your name must have a percentage of Roman alphabet letters.
The name can contain letters A – Z, numbers 0 – 9, and certain special characters. French characters are allowed. No more than 50% of the name can be made up of special characters. Your name will be searched in plain text. Formatting (e.g. bold font) is not allowed.
Your name must not mislead customers or misrepresent your activity.
Restricted words include those that are considered offensive, or suggest an affiliation to the government or royal. Certain financial, professional and educational terms require consent from authorizing agencies before the name is approved.
Legal Endings are mandatory for all business corporations.
Depending on what type of entity you wish to incorporate or register, you may need to add a legal ending to the entity name. The entity type determines what kind(s) of ending(s) the name can have. Business corporations are required to include one of the following legal elements at
the end of the name: Corporation, Corp., Incorporated, Inc., Limited, or Ltd.
Certain elements are not considered in the search.
Words such as “and”, “the” and “of”, internet terms such as “www” or “.ca”, and punctuation are not factored into the name search approval process.
How to Proceed with Naming Your Business
Choose a few names that fit the image you want to create. Test them out on friends, family, and potential customers. Try some names that are strong on imagery, others that are strong on description, and still others that fall somewhere in-between. Pay particular attention to testing your business names with people in your target market – the core consumer groups whose patronage you intend on capturing. Have
these people write down their impression of what the business would sell, how it would be run, etc. Compare their thoughts with your own.
When registering your new business name, a fee will be charged to ensure that your business name shall only be available for use by you for marketing and legal purposes. You will be required to specify the type of business structure, as well (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or cooperative).
Canada-Wide Name Searches
For some businesses, a Canada-wide name registration is preferable. This means that your name is reserved nationally, but regional obligations require that you also register your federally-reserved name in each province you do business in. Find more information from Corporations Canada or contact SK Startup Institute.
The Bottom Line
A good name provides the customer with a description of your business. Whether the name uses a straightforward description or imagery to call an emotion, ultimately, it should answer the customer’s question: “What can I expect?”