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DBA or “doing business as” is a designation used by a company in the process of doing business. While not the official name of the company, this alternative company name is usually something that is easy for consumers to remember and may even be a shortened version of the official name. Any type of company can employ a DBA from a sole proprietorship to an LLC or an S-corp.
The use of a fictitious business name is not uncommon. Many entities are incorporated with an official name, but choose to use a shortened version or some variant of that name when marketing goods or services to the general public. In many instances, the “doing business as” name is referred to as a trade name, since the designation is used as a marketing or trade tool.
It is not unusual for many consumers to assume that the DBA is in fact the “real” name of the company. This is especially true when the “doing business as” designation has been in use for several decades. There are also instances where a popular designation for the company becomes so widespread in use that the business eventually decides to incorporate under the DBA name.
The shorter fictitious name may be just as powerful a marketing tool as the company logo and in fact may be incorporated into the logo in many cases. Due to the quick recognition of the alternate business name, it is not unusual for the DBA to be used as part of the detail included on business stationery, in the design of web sites, and in many of the marketing and sales materials prepared for distribution to the public.
There are even instances of entities other than businesses making use of a DBA. In recent years, some religious organizations have adopted “doing business as” names while retaining their original name as part of the official Articles of Incorporation. Over time, the DBA replaces the official name in public use. However, employing this strategy effectively allows the religious body to retain control of the official name. This makes it impossible for dissidents from the original organization to assume the original name and possibly create confusion in the mind of the general public as to which group represents the originating body and which group is a dissenting body.
In many localities, it is necessary for any entity to file the “doing business as” name with the proper authorities and obtain approval before it can be used. Once approved, the DBA can be utilized in any type of promotional and sales material, as well as audio and visual advertising campaigns, product labels, and any other device that is seen by the general public.