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Golden rules for naming your business

Do not be fooled. A business name is more than just a word.

Don’t be fooled. A business name is more than just a word. In fact, it can make or break the success of your venture quicker than you can say it.

Choosing a name for your business might seem like a simple task, but in reality it’s anything but. Just because you like one suggestion doesn’t mean others will, or that it will work as a professional, memorable and reputable company moniker.

So, now you’ve got an idea of just how mammoth this seemingly straightforward job is, how do you go about deciding on, and sticking to, your company name?

1. Think about the kind of name you want

There are a few types of business names that we’re all familiar with. There’s the ‘double surname’ or ‘surname and co’ type, where the likes of Jones & Jones proudly display a sense of centuries-old heritage and reliability. Or there are the made up names, where words that were never words before suddenly enter the lexicon, and those that make it big become verbs in their own right (think Google). Then there are company names that are derived from other nouns, like Jaguar which is now synonymous with a certain kind of car and as such has (almost) lost its association with big cats.

The key here is to let your business lead the way. Your name needs to reflect your business, so think which type of name best represents your kind of business. The surnames route gives the impression of tradition and family legacy, while a made up word suggests innovation and originality, so think about what you want your business name to tell people about your company.

2. Check that your name is available

Once you’ve got an idea for your company name, the next step is to make sure that it isn’t already being used by another business. To do this, use the Companies House register, which is a database of all registered companies in the UK. Companies House also gives you some important pointers on the types of names you are allowed to use and which types you should check.

3. Make sure the domain name isn’t already in use

Ideally, you want your website to have the same name as your business – it’s easier for people to find it that way. Having a URL is what customers expect to see, so getting your hands on this is important. Once you’ve got it, you’ll need to register it and all possible variants so that you can keep your brand safe from other businesses. If it’s already taken, aim to get as close to the original as you can.

4. Search your suggestions online

You’ve confirmed availability and you’re on your way to registering your new company name – but there’s one more important step to take. You’ll want to check online to see if any search terms for your business come up with anything dodgy or direct customers towards competitors. The more original your name, the less likely it is that you’ll come up against any of these barriers.

All of these checks, as tedious as they might seem, are an important part of creating your business. Your company name is the heart of your brand and the one aspect that needs to stick in people’s minds, so don’t underestimate the importance of the task.

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