Your name will play a massive role in promoting your new business; get it right and it will attract new customers, set you apart and convey your brand identity. Get it wrong and not only could you give the wrong impression of your business, costing you customers, you could also land yourself in hot water.
The main principles for choosing a great name apply to any business, but if you are setting up a limited company or LLP there are some specific rules you need to be aware of. Before you register your business with Companies House, make sure your name ticks all of these boxes:
For starters, your business name must end with either limited (Ltd) or limited liability partnership (LLP), depending on which of these structures you decide upon.
Next, search the index of registered companies on the Companies House website to make sure your proposed name is not the ‘same as’ an existing limited company or LLP – unless your new business will form part of the same group as the organisation that already ‘owns’ the name, that is. Also, be aware that ‘same as’ does not necessarily mean identical to – if your name is similar enough to cause confusion, you will need to pick another.
If, after registering your business, your name is deemed to be ‘too like’ another company’s, a complaint can be lodged against your business. Objections can be made within 12 months, and if upheld by the registrar you will be given 12 weeks to change your name.
It’s also vitally important (and down to you) to ensure that your chosen name does not infringe any registered trade marks. To find out how to do this, read our guide on how to make sure your business name is original.
Unsurprisingly, any words or expressions deemed as offensive are a no-no. Meanwhile, there are some words that you must obtain special permission to use, including those that suggest your company is of national importance, such as ‘British’ or ‘international’. For more information, see our summary on company name restrictions.
Choosing the right name
Firstly, think about your brand values and the image you want to portray. Do you want a name that says traditional or modern? Should it suggest well-established reliability or an innovative approach?
Ideally you want a name that is memorable and unique, yet relevant and clear. A descriptive name avoids confusion about what you do and can be beneficial to search engine rankings. On the other hand, a more creative, abstract moniker can inspire curiosity and set you apart, but there needs to be some reasoning behind it if you want a credible brand. How does your name encapsulate your brand values? Could it be qualified by a clever tagline?
Think about how your name will work in your logo, signage, advertising and when answering the phone, too. Try to remain objective, put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and get as much feedback as you can from trusted sources.
And don’t forget to factor in the development of the company. Rebranding can be expensive, so try to avoid a name that is too specific if this will inhibit your future growth plans. Likewise, if your growth strategy involves international expansion, check that your name does not mean anything inappropriate in another language.
Once you are certain that your name is available, appropriate and complies with all legalities, it is time to register your limited company or LLP with Companies House. You should also look at protecting your new name by registering your own trade mark.
Registering your company
There are many company formation agents in the UK offering different packages and slightly different services. We've chosen to partner with Companies Made Simple, an approved e-filing partner of Companies House because they have successfully registered over 200,000 UK companies and we are impressed with their service, speed and value for money.