How to Pick a Company Name

Your business name is incredibly important. It’s the first thing your customers see and it has a huge impact on what they think of your brand, so it’s imperative that it reflects your business and your product or service well.

Picking a business name is one of the most exciting aspects of starting your own venture, but it can also be very frustrating. Not only will you need to pick one that no-one else has, but it can’t even be similar to other brands either!

If you’re struggling to think of the perfect name for your business, don’t worry, we’re here to help! Keep reading for advice on how to pick a company name, what to avoid and what to be aware of.

Picking a business name: 6 top tips

From creating a shortlist to checking domain name availability, here’s our top tips for how to pick a company name:

1.     Make a shortlist

The first step on your journey to picking a business name should always be to make a list. It’s all well and good coming up with one name that perfectly represents your brand, but sadly, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be available to begin with. Create a list of names and try not to get too attached to them at this point, later on you can narrow them down.

2.     Make it unique and easy to remember

A good point to remember is that word of mouth is still one of the most valuable marketing tools out there, so you should ensure that your brand name is catchy and matches your service or product. On top of this, it’s also a good idea to make it easy to spell and pronounce so when you get recommended verbally, it’s easy for someone to search for you and find your brand.

3.     Future proof it

When picking a business name, don’t make it too specific. It’s good to tell your customers what your brand is about, but you don’t want to make it so limiting that you’ll have to change your name if you want to do something else or sell other products in the future. Another good future proofing tip is to avoid names which may become outdated quickly, so stay away from slang or something that’s very of the time.

4.     Check your name in other languages

This is something that’s often overlooked when picking a business name, but it’s definitely something you should check, especially if you’re planning on selling or offering your services overseas. Where a simple word may seem innocent in English, it could cause great offence abroad and get you and your company off on very bad footing.

5.     Avoid initials and acronyms

Initials and acronyms as brand names are very hard to get right. When done poorly, they can feel a bit cold and very forgettable, so unless you’ve got one that’s really catchy in mind, it’s best to stay away from these types of business names.

6.     Check the availability of domain names

When you’re coming up with your catchy and memorable business name, you should also be checking the availability of domain names at the same time. Domain names are super important as it’s how potential customers are going to find your website so if you can, get one that matches your company name exactly.

Rules on business names

There are certain rules for picking business names that you’ll need to abide by which are set out by the government, these include:

  • Names can’t be the same or similar to other brands, they may be classed as the same or similar if the only differences are: certain punctuation, special characters or using words or characters that are similar in appearance or meaning
  • No offensive language is allowed
  • Your name can’t contain sensitive words or expressions
  • You can’t imply a false connection to the government or to other local authorities (unless you have written permission)

Registering your business name

Once you’ve picked your business name, it’s time check if it’s available. You can do this by using the free company name availability checker on Companies House that links directly to the official UK register of companies. Once you’ve ensured it’s available, it’s also good to ensure it’s not the same as an existing trade mark which you can do on the website.

All is not lost if every single variant of your dream business name is taken though, as to make matters more confusing, you can trade with a different name. The only catch with this is that your trading name can’t be too similar to another company’s trademark and you’ll still need to put your correct company name on any paperwork like invoices.

How much does business name registration cost?

It costs only £12 to register a company online and you can also apply to register your trademark at the same time, prices start at £170 for this. However, it’s important to note that trademarks only last for 10 years (they can be renewed) and will only be active in the UK.

That’s our guide on how to pick a company name and the rules and regulations that go along with it. Don’t forget that once you’ve chosen, move quickly and get it registered to secure the rights and protections.

Still trying to think of a great business idea and want some advice? Check out our guide on the top 10 small business ideas, next.