How to choose a business name

How to choose a business name

What’s in a name? Famously, by Shakespeare and spoken by Juliet “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other word would smell as sweet” which of course was a massive deal to these star crossed lovers, so much so their tale was to end in a joint suicide.

Well wasn’t that a dark start! 😬

Company names

So, are company names as important? Many business owners can deliberate for months, even years over the perfect name for their business. So when starting a new business, what should you bear in mind when selecting your business name.

Your company name should

  • not be the same or too similar to an existing company name – Companies House will contact you if they think your name is too like another – and tell you what to do.
  • avoid special characters, such as + or & (really for simplicity, but Companies House is also strict on this)
  • not be offensive
  • not use sensitive words or expressions
  • not suggest a connection with government or local authorities unless you have permission to do so

When choosing a company name you should K.I.S.S (Keep it simple, stupid)

Naming Methods

One of the most popular naming methods we’ve seen is simply using a surname/(s) and a connection to the sector or trade the business is in. Example, John Wood who runs an online training company might choose “Woods Online Training Ltd” and Michael Smith who runs a bike repair shop might choose “Smiths Cycle Repair Ltd” – you get the picture… Though some business owners prefer not to use their name in their company name for varying reasons, this would eliminate this simplistic approach!

Try and bear in mind if you may be steering the business into other markets in the future and think about the longevity of the name, for example: Bob’s Solar Panels Ltd – is a very “now” name while solar is still a very popular sector. In a few years time Bob might want to start working on new power technology and it’ll become apparent that a name containing solar panels is no longer applicable. Bob should perhaps have gone for something more generic like “Bobs Power Installation Ltd” just for example.

Trading names

You can trade using a different name to your registered name. This is known as a ‘business name’.

Business names must not:

  • be the same as an existing trade mark
  • include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
  • contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression unless you get permission

You’ll need to register your name as a trade mark if you want to stop people from trading under your business name.

You cannot use another company’s trade mark as your business name.

Sole Trader names

As a sole trader you can trade under your own name, or you can choose another name for your business. You don’t need to register your name.

You must include your name and business name (if you have one) on official paperwork, for example invoices and letters.

Sole trader names must not:

  • include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership’, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
  • be offensive
  • be the same as an existing trade mark

Still stumped?

If you’re still struggling to think something up, you could use an online business name generator tool such as name generator or namelix some of the suggestions might be off the wall and not at all what you are thinking of, but they may just inspire that perfect name, if that’s what you are in search of. When I put in the details of Michael Smith’s bike repair shop, name generator came up trumps with “Cycle Schmycle” 😂

Have fun coming up with names, but really, that’s the easy part!