When you start up a new business you may decide to trade under a business name that you already have in mind. If you are a sole trader then you may decide to trade under your own name, or if you are setting up a family business with your partner and/or children then you may decide to trade under your family name.
While this may make perfect sense in the beginning, should your business grow larger and you decide to take it to the next step to register your businesses as a limited company, then you need to make sure that you choose the right company name to register with at Companies House.
Let’s say for example that you start up a family electrical installation company and trade under your own family name of Smith’s Electrical. All goes fine until you decide to register your business as a limited company and find that the ‘Smith’s Electrical’ company name has already been registered with Companies House by another company.
If you put a search in for ‘Smith’s Electrical’ on the Companies House Company Name Availability Checker, you will get the following search results:
The company name “SMITH’S ELECTRICAL” is considered to be the ‘same as’ the existing names shown below:
SMITHS ELECTRICAL LTD
10862602 – Incorporated on 12 July 2017
Private limited company
There is an easy solution here for a workaround in this case. Maybe you could look at incorporating your family members initials in the company name to make it different. So if you are Roger and Susan Smith, then you could go with R & S Smith Electrical as your company name instead. Once you find a workable name that hasn’t already been registered you can then feel happy to continue to trade under your family business name without needing to change it too drastically.
This can be a positive move, especially where you may already have an existing customer base built up that know, trust and recognise you as ‘Smith’s Electrical’. A drastic change of business name may only serve to confuse your existing customers.
Choosing your name before you start trading
Sometimes people start up businesses without giving much thought to their business name. If you plan to start up a business from scratch and fully intend to incorporate your business as an official limited company or LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) before you start trading, then choosing your business name will be a vital first step towards bringing your company to life.
Picking the right company name for your business is a very important first step when going through the company formations process and forming your limited company. It is what will shape and define your company and give it real-world status and credibility.
Make sure you take some time to choose wisely. You wouldn’t name your own child off the cuff without thinking about possible baby names well in advance of the birth, so why wouldn’t you spend just as long brainstorming and working through possible names for your company.
Your chosen company name needs to be unique, but it also has to relate to you in some logical way. Choosing a memorable name that easily sticks in the mind is also an advantage, but that doesn’t mean your company name needs to be weird or ‘out-there’ to get noticed. Choosing a very unusual name may just serve to confuse your prospective customers or even put them off buying your products or services because your name may paint an unreliable picture in their minds.
Remember that your company name is going to be something your business will live with possibly for life, so think about it carefully.
Why your business name is essential for your success
You may have the most brilliant business idea since sliced bread, but it doesn’t mean that you can get your idea across to your potential customers without first introducing yourself and your company to them.
In cases when your business idea isn’t unique, you will still need to get across to your potential new customers why you are a legitimate business and have plenty of good reasons for them to buy from you instead of from your competition.
Remember that your company name will be everywhere you look, so you need to be able to live with it too. How are you going to feel when answering your business phone with your company greeting for possibly years to come. Will you be happy to say your company name twenty or more times per day, every day, for years ahead?
You need to be able to say your company name over again without difficulty and also like hearing it being repeated back to you. If your name is difficult to pronounce or even makes you cringe when repeated back to you – it would be wise to go with something else.
Your company website
When you are building your company website for your business, your choice of a company name is essential here and will help to project the right first impression and create the right image of your company to your prospective customers or clients.
Your business website is essentially your first point of contact for potential customers, clients or B2B networking contacts. It doesn’t matter if you run a business from home, offer a mobile service, operate from a retail shop or warehouse space, everyone is going to notice your company name.
You need to make your name appealing so that people browsing your business sector or searching for your product or service online will be more inclined to click on your website rather than go to a competitor site that looks more appealing.
Setting the right tone
Creating the best first impression possible is your goal. You need to set the right tone with your business name and be able to develop a strong brand identity around it. This is especially important for more serious businesses that need to project a very professional image, such as solicitors and accountants etc.
I highly doubt that many people will actively choose to have their business accounts looked after by a company called ‘The Zany Accounting Crew’ if they want to hire a professional service that will take their duties seriously.
Building your brand name
Your company name and your brand name are intricately entwined together. Branding is not simply a case of sticking a pretty logo on everything you produce. Your brand name should also act as an effective and memorable tool that helps your customers to remember you.
Once you have a short list of potential company names in hand, try to visualise the names as an artistic logo that is recognisable, simple, readable and most of all – reflects your business.
It would pay you to hire the services of a graphic designer to help you to visualise your brand by creating some sample logo’s for you to consider. You should share these mock-ups with others and be open to honest discussion about the brand direction, style, tone and design you are looking for to professionally brand your business with.
Once you have narrowed down your company brand logo, make sure that you enjoy looking at it. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you like the way it is written?
- Do you like the text font?
- Do you like the colour scheme used?
- Can you read it easily?
- Does it speak to you?
The last question to ask yourself is: Can it be made any better? If the answer is yes, then go back to the drawing board and tweak your favourite design until you can honestly answer ‘no’ to the last question.
Ultimately, it is all about achieving a balance between a good company name and being able to produce good branding from it. Take your time to get this right so you don’t have to face the nightmare of having to rebrand your business further down the road because you were not quite comfortable with your results the first time around.
Your next step
As you can see from what has been discussed above – the process of naming your company is very important and is a task that should not be taken lightly.
Ideally, you will want to get it right the first time, so if you have the slightest doubt or hesitation about any aspect of your company name and how you will be using it, don’t hesitate to take more time over your company name decision.
Try to choose a company name that can grow with your business and can set a good foundation to build your business upon for future success.
Once you have your company name you can then go on to officially registering it with Companies House as a Limited Company by going through the Company Formations Process. You can then use your company name with confidence to create a compelling brand that gets you recognised and remembered.
Your Company Formations are here to help take the hassle out of registering your Limited Company. With our 100+ years of collective experience in the company formations business, we are best placed to register your new company on your behalf with Companies House. We are one of their registered formations agents and highly trusted by thousands of UK businesses for our formations services.