Choosing a name for your business

27 October 2006
Choosing a name for your business

How do you go about choosing a suitable name for your business? Deborah Wyatt from Business Link offers some guidelines." target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Business Link is a government network run by the Department of Trade and Industry that provides practical and impartial guidance to new and existing small and medium-sized enterprises.
Choosing a name for your business is enjoyable, as it allows you to be creative and throw ideas around. It is also a very important stage of the starting-up process and can strongly influence the potential impact of your brand.

You only get one chance to make a first impression and, more often than not, people will get their first impression of your brand or business from its name.

This does not apply only to customers. Throughout the early stages of starting up, you will encounter a wide range of stakeholders, from investors and suppliers to potential employees and advisers, all of whom you should be eager to impress. An original name can help you do this.

Choosing a name for a business is about striking the right balance. Ideally, you should communicate your brand's personality whilst also taking an objective approach and giving your audience an idea of what your business does.

It is also important to remember that the name you choose will be more than just a name. It will become the face of your brand, featuring on your website, premises, marketing material and packaging.

Think about the following when coming up with a name:

  • Who are you talking to? Think about who your customers are and what you are trying to say to them. If you are setting up a café or restaurant in a city centre, then choose something that will appeal to a corporate audience. On the other hand, if you are starting up as a goods supplier, then you will be communicating with a different audience and this should be reflected in your choice.
  • Functional or abstract? Ask yourself whether you want your name to explain exactly what your company does, or whether you want something a bit more unusual or eye-catching.
  • Nothing too tricky: Don't overcomplicate your name by making it difficult to remember, pronounce or spell.
  • Make it memorable: Choosing an unusual or clever name will increase the word-of-mouth value of your brand and will mean that people will talk about and remember it.
  • Talk to people:
  • And finally, check your name does not have a dangerous double-entendre that translates into something inappropriate or negative in a different language - especially if you are planning to attract foreign customers.

Registering your business name
Once you have done the creative bit and found a business name, you need to follow the set guidelines for registering it properly. Various rules apply, and these depend on whether you are establishing your business as a Limited company, a limited liability partnership or a sole trader.

For more information, and the precise guidelines, visit the Companies House website. It is also worth checking that the name you want to use has not been registered as a trademark through the Patent Office.

Another worthwhile step that you should take soon after deciding your business name is to register it as a domain name. This will be crucial for developing an online presence of some kind. A good starting point is Nominet, the official registry for UK domain names.

If your business name has already been registered by someone else as a domain name, you will need to choose another domain name.

Find out more:

Information on writing a business plan from Business Link

Call 0845 600 9 006 to locate your nearest Business Link service.

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