There’s a mountain of things to consider when you start a new business, and one of them is a new business name. Search experts, branding consultants, marketers and strategists all know that a poorly chosen name can spell disaster for your business – but take the time to get it right, and you could be onto a winner.
Why your business needs a good name
When you start a business, it’s worth spending some time and energy on naming it well. A good business name needs to be memorable, shouldn’t be too close to the competition and shouldn’t limit future growth – both in terms of geography and product/service expansion. It should be easy to spell, easy to hear over the phone and be relevant to your business.
In addition to these guidelines, which are really business and common sense rules, there are some legal rules to follow.
- You need to choose a name for your business whether you are registering with Companies House or setting up as a sole trader or ordinary business partnership.
- You can’t choose a name which is exactly the same as another business’ registered name – you can check this on the Companies House register.
- You can’t suggest a connection with government or local authorities.
- You can’t use sensitive or offensive words in your business name.
- Your name can’t be too similar to already-registered business names.
- You can register one name for your business and trade under another, but you must follow additional rules in this case.
Do you have to trademark a business name?
Simply registering your new business name with Companies House does not give you trademark protection; it simply prevents another business from using exactly the same name. However, another business could use your name in their branding, or register it as their own trademark, so it is always worth taking advice on whether it is a good idea to take the step of formally registering your name, and perhaps your logo or branding as a trademark to protect your business in the future.
The hard bit – deciding on your name
There are lots of pitfalls when choosing a name for your business, so take your time and get it right. Here are our easy-to-follow steps:
- Brainstorm – write down all the words you associate with your business. Include words about your service, your product, the core purpose of your business, words that your customers might use or search for – anything that helps to describe your business and how you want to place it in the market.
- Get some help – and by this we mean use a couple of handy websites. Some are great for online brainstorming whilst others help you to identify potential domain names for your business – try bust-a-name; lean domain search, NameStation and Domainr for starters.
- Keep it simple – for lots of reasons, short is sweet. Many experts suggest you stick with just two syllables. Think Apple, Google, YouTube. Longer names can be confusing, and the more complicated you get, the more likely it is people will spell your name wrongly, say it wrongly and you’ll lose the impact you want.
- Think about how you’ll use it – your company name won’t just go on your business card – it is likely to be your domain name; you’ll use it for your Twitter handle and your Facebook page, and you’ll have to introduce yourself over the phone and face-to-face using the name you’ve chosen. So you want to be incredibly comfortable with it.
- Think about growth – your business may be new, but you want it to succeed. This might mean starting online sales down the line, or expanding your product range. So don’t limit your business by calling it after your local area, or your main product – it will just make things more difficult in the long term.
- Test it out – this is more than running things past your family; this is about testing it on your target market, comparing it to the competition and making sure you get it right.
- Check it’s available – once you’ve decided on a name that works, check that it’s not already in use, and make sure you can buy the domain name. For this reason alone, it’s a good idea to actually create a shortlist of 3-5 new business name suggestions so that you have alternatives if you’re chosen name is already taken.
Hiring a virtual assistant – things you could outsource
There are time saving ways to register an online business name. Whether you need help with how to start a business, or just someone to help you check on name availability and domain registration when you start your new business name search, why not talk to us. If you outsource admin work to us you can concentrate on getting the key things right.