When you start a business, one of your earliest considerations will be what you are going to call it, Dave Clark from bond-branding.com explains. After all, your company’s name will form a big part of your branding. There is also the potential for embarrassment or loss of trade if you get it wrong. If you use social media you have no doubt seen the occasional post on comical business names such as “The Golden Shower Restaurant”. Sometimes, funny business names are intentional and are chosen for humor or publicity – but often the business owner just didn’t fully think through the implications of the name.
However – while it is accepted that the company name is important – you shouldn’t agonize too much over the decision, especially if it is taking the focus away from other business considerations. An impressive sounding or clever business name is a positive for a company, but counts for nothing if it isn’t backed up by a great product or good customer service.
If you are in the process of naming your company, here are a few simple pointers which may help you.
Get The Legal Stuff Right
In the UK, there are over 3 million companies registered with Companies House and that figure is expanding at almost 400,000 companies per year. This means that however original you think your chosen name is, there is a very good chance that somebody else is already using it. This is not necessarily a problem and the regulator is likely to still permit the use of the name, but you should be more wary if your company’s new name is the same as – or even similar – to the trading name of a major corporation.
It is also advisable to contact Companies House to obtain a list of words which are controversial or not permitted, before you start advertising your business or printing up stationery. This list of words may surprise you. For instance, when the Olympics was held in 2012 a small cafe in Stratford came to the attention of the official committee due to its name; Cafe Olympic. You may think that such a small business would be beneath their notice, but the cafe’s owner was hit with the full power of the committee’s lawyers and eventually agreed to change the name to Cafe Lympic.
Pick A Name With Long Term Potential
Now that you know what the legalities are of choosing a company name, think about your future aspirations for your company. When you are just starting out, you may find it overwhelming to think about going global or expanding the product line. But if there is any chance that your business is going to grow and and change over time then you need to pick a company name which doesn’t refer to one restrictive product, or appeals only to customers in one geographic location.
Avoid Offensive Names
Remember that a company name which seems innocent in your home company may be humorous or offensive to people abroad, or who are from a different culture. For example, Finland’s KKK supermarket chain does not raise eyebrows in its own country, but visitors from America or the UK are likely to immediately associate the name with the ku klux klan. Not something that you necessarily want to link with your business.
This does not require a great deal of research. Just make sure you enter your potential company name into a search engine before you register it, to ensure no untoward results pop up.
Don’t Give Too Many People An Opinion
The final piece of advice is to limit the number of people who get a say in what the company is going to be named. There is unlikely to be much consensus if too many people get involved, and discussions may be unproductive. As long as it fits the guidelines above the name should do fine – after all, few people probably thought an electronics company named after a fruit would do so well.
- Photo credit: smartphotostock.com, Derek Gavey
About the Author
Amy Rice enjoys writing about business startup, when not writing she enjoys playing adventure golf and swimming with her daughter.