What’s in a name? Pretty much everything if you choose the right one. Building your brand, designing a logo, creating merchandise, webpage, social media accounts, it all starts with your company name. 
There are a few things you need to consider before committing it to stone. It’s not just about creating the right impressions, there are rules and regulations you will need to follow as well. 

Your brand identity 

Choosing your company name should be exciting and fun, however it can become a bit of a headscratcher when you stop to consider all the things you want from a business name and all the loopholes you need to jump through. 
First, think about what impression you want to give your clients. Is your brand identity eccentric, exuberant, solemn, or specialised? Create a short list of possible company names but be flexible and don’t get too attached before you’ve carried out all the required searches, see below. 

8 tips for choosing a name 

What to consider when choosing a company name: 
1. Make it unique, memorable, easy to spell and easy to pronounce. 
2. Aim to reflect your brand. Incorporate a play on words if that’s the right image for your company, but if not, make it professional sounding. 
3. Ensure it is futureproof and won’t restrict your growth or go out of style. 
4. Will it work overseas? Check it’s not offensive in any language. 
5. Check your preferred website domain name is available to purchase. 
6. Make sure there aren’t any existing trademarks on that specific name or something very similar. 
7. Avoid your initials or incorporating your own name, as it’s not very original. 
8. Most important of all… make sure you love it! 

The legal requirements  

Once you have narrowed down your name choices, you should visit Companies House and carry out a name check, as their rules stipulate that you cannot choose a name that is the same as or too similar to any other company on the register. 
Remember that your business name cannot be considered offensive or contain any sensitive words or expressions. There are over 200 of these so be sure to double check if you’ve chosen one of them, for example, you cannot use terms such a “King”, “British” or “Authority” without official permission from Companies House. Also, your business name cannot imply a connection to the UK government, a local or public authority or a dissolved administration. 
You should also check that your desired name isn’t already registered as a UK Intellectual Property Office trademark, click here to carry out this check. 
Once you’ve chosen your official ‘corporate name’ that is registered with company house, you can always select a ‘trading name’ instead, for example if you want it to represent a different part of your business.  
If you are a Limited company, don’t forget you will need to add Limited to the end of your chosen business name, you will need to display your registered business name on all hard copy and digital documents, including your business address and registered business number, and VAT registration number. 
If you’re planning on working as a sole trader, rather than a registered company, you can simply trade under your own name. Although you can choose a name that is the same as another business, you probably shouldn’t, to avoid any confusion or competition for website hits etc. The same rules apply to sole traders as company names, it must not be offensive or contain sensitive words still apply and you cannot use the terms Public Limited Company (PLC) or Limited (LTD). 
Changing the company name 
Don’t panic – you can change the company name at any time. The same rules around name requirements are the same, but provided you meet those, you can simply submit a form (with a small admin fee) to Companies House and change the company name. 
Once you’ve chosen your new business name, you will need an experienced accountancy firm to help you through the next steps, contact us to see if we’re the perfect fit for you. 
Written by 
Nicola J Sorrell - 
Effective Accounting 
Founder | Xero Champion | IR35 Expert 
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