With Franks Accountants
When starting a new business and selecting a name for your company, there are some important considerations to make before you commit.
Not only should your business name be a perfect fit for what you do, it needs careful consideration to ensure you stay legal.
Choosing a name for your business is even more important if you decide to set up as a limited company, as there are rules that may affect your choice.
In this article, we cover 7 steps that business startups should consider relating to naming your business, completing some of the legal activities and allowing for future growth.
1. Market Research
For the purpose of this article, we are assuming you’ve done all the appropriate research to ensure your business has the best possible chance of success.
If not, this is the first thing you should do. This research will also help you understand businesses already operating in your area and the names they have used to describe their business.
Use that information to ensure your name is not similar to another and help find a competitive advantage for your business and its name.
2. Sensitive words and expressions
Certain words, expressions, characters and symbols are restricted to be in the name of a company.
These controls exist to ensure a name does not mislead or harm the public. So in simple terms, words like “British”, “Tribunal”, or “Institute”, or using words that represent a regulated activity and words that could cause an offence are restricted. Click to check a list of sensitive words and expressions.
If you are going to register your business as a limited company, it becomes a legal entity in its own right, separated from those who own or run it. To do this you will need to register your business at Companies House with a unique name. Therefore before you decide upon a name, you’ll need to check if it is available using the company name availability checker.
Your name cannot be the same or too similar to another registered company’s name. If your name is too similar or the ‘same as’ another company’s name or trade mark you may have to change it if someone makes a ‘too like’ complaint.
For example ‘Kitchens 4 U Ltd’ is the same as ‘Kitchenz For You Ltd’ and Companies House will contact you and tell you what to do.
4. Short and Simple
If you find that you have to explain your company name to everyone then it may be too obscure. Something short, simple and straightforward is much more likely to be remembered.
The last thing you want to do is damage your brand and the success of your business because of your business name. If people can’t remember it or you’ve tried to be too clever, it can lead to confusion.
5. Allow for growth
If you are too specific with your business name it may restrict you if you decide to expand later. If you initially plan to offer one product or service and then decide to expand your offerings, does your chosen company name restrict this or lead to confusion?
6. Domain names
A strong presence online is essential for businesses today. Even if your services cannot be delivered online, you still need to make sure that people can search for your business online and find you before your competition.
This means it’s worth checking that your preferred domain name is available and can be secured.
7. Protecting your company name
Some businesses consider protecting their brands to avoid others using their trade marks. If you are not too familiar in this area, trade marks help consumers to recognise products and services from their favourite brands. They are great for generating brand loyalty.
You may choose to do this too but even if you don't, it is a wise move to check first to make sure the name you are interested in is not already trademarked.
You can find out more at the Intellectual Property Office.
A great company name is a powerful tool that can be extremely effective when it comes to marketing or differentiating you from your competition.
It can add value to your brand proposition and impacts the ways your customers and investors connect with you. Thinking about this strategically from the start can save you time and money and keep you compliant with your legal obligations.
Getting this wrong could be detrimental to getting your business off the ground.
With lots to take into consideration, especially regarding the legal requirements, starting a new business can be scary and a little overwhelming. We’ll advise on the best trading structure and help define the legal responsibilities to help you get off to the best possible start.