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Things to Consider When Choosing Your Company Name

Apr 24, 2017


Trying to decide a name for your new business can be tough, but we want to help!

It can be deflating to make the exciting decision to start a business just to fall at the first hurdle: deciding on a name for your new company. It can be tricky choosing a name that reflects the nature of your business, but doesn’t limit opportunities for future expansion. You might come up with a fantastic idea, just to realise someone has beaten you to it. There’s also rules about company names from Companies House that need to be abided by.

Here at @UKplc Company Registrations, we want to make the company formation process as simple as possible so here are a few tips and tricks for choosing a suitable business name, alongside a few dos and don’ts.

First of all, what does Companies House not allow?

Companies House sets out a list of sensitive words and expressions to ensure a company name does not mislead or harm the public. For example, a company name should not imply a connection with UK government. To use a sensitive word in your company name, you need approval from the Secretary of State.

Names that are likely to cause offence and company names already in use are also not allowed.  Companies House has a list of invisible words, such as company, England, Wales etc. that are not taken into account when comparing a new company name for similarity with existing company names.

Don’t forget, the ending of your new company name is prescribed by law. If you are a UK limited company, your name must end in “limited” or “ltd” or if it’s a public company, it will end with “plc.”

What will your new business look like?

What products/services are you intending to sell? If you’re intending to open an online store selling discount goods, you might want to choose a name that reflects the online nature of your business and what products your shop will offer.

Will you yourself be a big part of your brand? Many people name their company after themselves. If your business will be more personal, such as you yourself offering a particular service, it can be a great move to make yourself a strong part of your branding.

What are your plans for expansion in the future? Having a company name that strongly links you to one very particular line of business can limit your future opportunities for expansion. Unless you’re 100% sure you want to do the same thing for as long as your business exists, it’s a good idea to have a name that isn’t too specific.

Is your business more traditional or more modern? Online-based digital businesses are on the rise and they tend to have a different approach to their names in comparison with more traditional companies.

The answers to these questions will all affect the decision you make when choosing your company name. Choosing a name that in no way reflects what your business actually does can make it harder for potential customers to find. Of course there’s always exceptions to the rule; for example, Apple does not sell apples!

Make sure you…

  • Make your company name memorable
  • Check how it works visually: will it work on a sign, stationery?
  • Stand out from the competition
  • Ensure it works in different languages if you’re planning to trade abroad
  • Choose a name that works as a domain name, especially if you want to trade online

Things to avoid

  • Strings of letters and numbers that make your name harder to remember
  • Geographical names that could limit your future expansion
  • Overly specific names
  • Names that can be shortened into something offensive or rude

Start drafting ideas

Now that you’ve considered the above questions, it’s time to start drafting some ideas. Get a pen and a blank piece of paper and just write down any ideas that come to mind. Test how they look, how they sound and double check any abbreviations or acronyms they might form. When you’ve got a good list, start crossing off names that don’t work for you until you’re eventually able to settle on just one. It can be a good idea to ask trusted friends and family members for their opinions too.

What to do when you’ve chosen a name

When you find a name you like the sound and look of make sure you run it through our free company name check to make sure it’s available and avoid any disappointment.

For more guidance on starting a business, download the @UKplc Company Registrations Company Start-Up Guide




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