How to come up with a name for your business

From creating a strong first impression to ensuring your brand is memorable, a great name can help your business stand out from the crowd. However, finding a name that’s unique, catchy and reflects what your business does can be easier said than done. Here we offer some tips on how to come up with a name that will convey your business’s values and help you build a brand identity that resonates with your customers.

Before you start brainstorming, there are some legal points that you’ll need to consider to ensure you’ll be able to register your new business name:

  • If you’re setting up as a sole trader or a partnership, your business name cannot include the words ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership’, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’. Your business name cannot be offensive, be the same as an existing trade mark or contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression. It cannot suggest a connection with government or local authorities unless you get permission.
  • If you’re choosing a name for a limited company or LLP, your business name must not include any of the sensitive words or expressions referred to in the guidance from Companies House. This includes words that may imply a connection with government or public authorities, unless they have been specifically approved. Company names that are considered to be ‘too like’ or the ‘same as’ existing names will be rejected. For example, ‘EZ Electrix 4U Ltd’ is considered the same as ‘Easy Electrics For You Ltd’.

Think about your business and your target customers

In order to come up with a name that represents your business effectively, it’s crucial that you have a clear understanding of your product or service and your target customers. 

Taking some time to articulate exactly what your business does, who its ideal customers are and how it operates could help to spark some words, concepts and ideas. It can also help to ensure that you have the business’s value proposition at the forefront of your mind.

Decide on the aim of the name

Consider whether you want your name to explicitly describe what your business does - for example, ‘Tony’s Tyre Shop’ - or if you’d prefer it to reflect something about your brand’s ethos, values or origins in a more abstract way. 

Thinking about how you want people to feel when they hear your business name may also help to highlight the kinds of words you should focus on.

Check if your preferred name is taken

Once you’ve come up with some ideas for your new business name, it’s important to ensure that they’re not being used by another brand. 

You should check the Intellectual Property Office trade marks register to ensure your proposed name isn’t already in use. If you’re starting a limited company or LLP, you should also use the company name availability checker at Companies House to make sure the name hasn’t already been registered. 

Once you’ve chosen a business name, you might want to consider paying to register it as a trade mark to prevent anyone else from using it.

Ask for feedback

Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential business names down to just a couple of options, you may want to ask for some outside opinions.  Friends and family members can be great sounding boards and can help you establish whether your preferred name is easy to say and catchy. It may also be worth testing the business name with potential customers, if you can, to make sure it resonates with them too.

Three things to avoid when choosing your business name

While there’s plenty of scope to get creative when you’re deciding on a name for your business, there are a few things to watch out for.

1. Don’t be too specific

A business name that explains your services is great, but if your name is too specific, you may run into trouble if you decide to expand further down the line. For example, if you called your business ‘Bella’s Bubble Bath’, but later decided to start manufacturing body lotion and hand soap too, you’d probably want to change your business name. If your business is already established this can be a complex process, and you would need to make HMRC aware of the change.

2. Avoid names that are hard to say or spell

Names that are difficult to pronounce can be harder to remember, so you might want to opt for simpler words that will stick in the memories of your potential customers. Similarly, if your business name is difficult to spell, or uses a non-standard spelling, your potential customers may struggle to find you online and end up using one of your competitors instead. 

3. Think twice about trend-led names

Business names that are influenced by trends, such as popular TV shows or social media moments, can be playful and catchy. However, these kinds of names can quickly begin to feel dated and will lose their relevance as trends change, so you may want to opt for a moniker with timeless appeal instead.

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