Naming your Business

Your business name is really, really, really important. Picking the right name will be key to your success and yes, it can be a fun and enjoyable process but you need to be 100% sure you’ve got it right before going ‘live’ with it. Your business’ name has to representative of your company, its aims and the attitude you’re hoping to project.

Some businesses are able to get away with a pun-inspired, jokey name but there are other instances where this simply wouldn’t be right. You need to get it checked grammatically and for spelling errors too so you avoid looking unprofessional and driving customers away. Your business name is probably the most powerful marketing tool you have to you need to get it right.

Finding the right name is difficult, inspiration can come from anywhere. There are online resources but beware of generator sites which simply splice words together and give you something vaguely business-like. Your name needs to be right for your target audience. It has to represent your key identity and the impression you want to represent. Once you have your name, your brand identity can be crafted around it. Whether you want to market yourself as kooky, professional, eccentric or trustworthy, your name needs to get this across.

Sources of Inspiration

Where do all those inspired business names come from? Chances are you’ve seen hundreds of names which you’ve thought ‘That’s brilliant’ but how do you ensure yours is as good? As mentioned watch out for generators as they’re often geared and connected to sites selling domain names so you’ll end up with results simply driving you towards buying specific domains. Your business name idea needs to come from you.

Some business owners can take advantage of their sector and choose something deliberately abstract. This helps them gain a cult following such as Moonpig or makes people think twice before skipping past them as their name is intriguing. Many digital agencies choose to opt for a name which is completely abstract, as there are so many to choose from they want to stand out from the crowd.

There are some occasions where a quirky name simply wouldn’t work. If you trade online for example it’s often sensible to choose a name which clearly states what you do and it’s also very difficult for companies offering professional services such as accounting to achieve success under a quirky name. Choosing an abstract, alternative name takes a lot of guts but it could be right for your business.

Choosing your Business Name

A contemporary-sounding business name could be perfect for your business if it’s right for your industry whereas others can take advantage of tradition when making their choice. Amusing names are never a good idea because jokes get old and your business name will sound tired within a few months. Trying to be funny often puts customers off too as they feel you don’t take your business and therefore them seriously.

Small business owners and self-employed professionals can take the simple option of using their own name. It’s an easy way of making things straight forward and you can simply add a strapline which explains what you do. It’s also a great way of adding an additional personal element to your business which can be great for forging long-term customer relationships.

If you do choose to use your own name the strapline is integral. Simply calling yourself John Jones Company doesn’t give the customer anything whilst John Jones – Padstow’s’ Professional Window Cleaner does. It also adds a location which can be integral to some business’ success.

Don’t forget you need to ensure your business name is actually available, especially from a web perspective. To ensure your business is viewed reputably you need a domain name that’s closely related. Check out names via and go from there.

Registering your Business Name

It’s not always necessary that you register your business name, as long as you’re registered with the HMRC at least. However, if you want to become a private limited company then you can only register a name that isn’t already in use. Companies House is the place to check out to see if someone is already using your preferred name.

Sole traders can choose to trade under their personal name or under a company name. Many do the latter to suggest a larger company but it isn’t essential. One thing you need to be sure of is that your chosen name genuinely isn’t in use. If you choose a name that is already in use you could be accused of ‘passing off’ and you run the risk of ruining your business’ reputation. You also need to keep the following points in mind.

There are specific words you cannot use without official permission from specific bodies which include:

  • Trust – suggests a specific type of function
  • Health Centre – suggests a specialist activity
  • British, International, English – suggests national importance.
  • Royal, King, Queen – require a letter from the Department of Constitutional Affairs.
  • Professional terms such as Solicitor – a criminal offence without the relevant permissons.

Naming your business doesn’t have to be a minefield just make sure it suits your ethos and stays within the law. Why not share the story behind your business name in our WAHM community forums.