What's in a Name?

You've decided to set up your own business; you've decided on the products or services you're going to offer and the market you're going to operate within. But now you need to decide what you're going to call your business.  

A name says a lot about the nature of a company. It's the first thing a customer notices, so creating the right first impression is essential.

How to Come up With a Company Name

You can take inspiration for your business name from almost anywhere, even make up a new word – but keep in mind how you want to be perceived. For example, a creative agency will suit a name with a fun, friendly personality. In contrast, a legal services provider will want to convey professionalism and reliability. Don't use words and phrases that imply government connections (for example, 'British') without seeking approval.

Start by making a list, brainstorm ideas. Do some research; share your thoughts with friends, family, potential customers, and keep refining your list until you reach a decision.

What Makes a Good Company Name?

Consider the product or service you're offering and who is your target market – the people you want to connect with. Do you offer something unique that helps you stand out from the competition? A well-thought-through business name should project a strong image that sticks in the mind of customers.

Think Ahead

If you're operating locally now but plan to expand your geographic reach in the future, be careful about choosing a name that restricts your operations. Conversely, suppose your products are produced locally, and you want to reflect this. In that case, you may find including the name will appeal to your target audience.

Changing your name in years to come creates many challenges. Some of them are costly: reprinting stationery, marketing literature and product information; new website domain; renaming social media channels and even business premises signage. So it's important to get it right from the start.

Don't Forget Practical Considerations

It might be tempting to get creative with your business name, but don't make it complicated. Is it easy to say? Is it easy to spell? Quirky names can make it difficult for customers to find you when they search online if they have unique ways of being spelt.

Speaking of online, check whether your chosen name is available as a domain for your website and emails and on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

If your business is a limited company, deciding your company name will be part of the registration process. Search the Companies House registeri where you will find a list of comparable company names already registered.

You can't choose a company name that's the same as one that already exists or is the same as a registered trademark. Avoid a name that's too similar to an established company; you may find yourself being challenged at a later date, which could result in legal costs and business disruption. You can search for registered trademarks on the Intellectual Property Officeii website.

Suppose you're setting up as a self-employed sole trader or a traditional partnership. In that case, you can use your own name(s) for the business. Using your name can be limiting, though. For example, clients may feel they're not getting the personal service they expect if Mrs Jones doesn't handle their business in person.

Marketing Your Business

It's not too early to start thinking about your brand identity and identifying a catchy strapline that works with the name to reinforce your business's personality.

Think about how the name will look when it's written, and how will it work as a logo?  

Naming your business can be pretty challenging. By investing time, careful consideration, and even research to get it right, you'll be embarking on the right path to launching a successful business.



i https://www.gov.uk/guidance/search-the-companies-house-register

ii https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office

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