Action plan: naming your business

…Picking A Name For Your Start-up


Congratulations, you’ve decided to set up your own business.

You’ve done your business plan, SWOT and marketing analysis, and decided on what your core products or services are going to be and how you are going to promote and sell them.

The final piece of the jigsaw … a company name.

Whether your business is online or more traditional, its name is more important than you might think. It has to be unique and not infringe any copyright. It has to be memorable and perhaps most importantly, it has to be the very essence of your business as it is from your name (and possibly tagline) that your brand will develop.

First Impressions

It is important to remember that the name of your business has a strong effect on promoting the overall image of your business.

When you look up a business in the business directory or yellow pages (do people still use yellow pages?), quite often all that will be displayed is the name of the company and its telephone number, so some potential customers will be making a decision on whether to contact you based on how they interpret your name.

Even on a Google search, your company name will feature prominently with a snapshot of other information. That’s why it is so important to get your name right, as this can make a real difference in the early days, especially when the business itself is yet to build a real reputation and customers do not yet recognise your brand.

Company Image

It’s worth taking the time to really consider what your company image or personality is going to be. Is it going to be a fun, cutting-edge personality or perhaps a formal more professional image?

A comedic name may seem like a great idea at first, but if you are providing more serious services, such as accountancy or legal advice, you might want to think again. Eg. the name “Curl Up and Dye” is a pretty funny name for a hairdresser (although done to death). It is memorable and noticeable on the high street and the hair industry is often built on passing trade and reputation, so you may feel you can afford to be humorous.

However, it’s worth remembering that you will have to live with whatever name you choose. Make sure you are comfortable introducing yourself and your company with your chosen name and indeed answering the phone. The 100th time you greet a customer with “hello, Curl Up and Dye, how can I help you?” you might find the humour wearing thin.

Put yourself in the position of your customers.  Having a quirky name for your hairdresser is quite fun, having a quirky name for your accountant or lawyer may not be. For example, accountancy called “Crunch, Crunch, Crunch” may not fill you with masses of confidence in their services, while if they were called “Abacus Accounting” or “ J Williams and Associates” you might feel more secure.

The Meaning Of Names

Consider how much information you want your name to convey. Family names, such as the example above, tend to give an impression of longevity, traditional values and dependability, however, they don’t really tell your customer anything about what it is your business actually does. Not necessarily a problem if you are able to build up a strong brand presence around the company.

Other companies, however, want a fresher more modern stance or a more memorable name that will help build their brand from the go and pick a name that is related to their trade. You can do this by simply having what you do in the title e.g. “ Armadillo Accountants” or “Dingles Spa” or by choosing a name that relates to your product or service such as “Abacus” for accountants, “Converge” for outsourced office solutions or telecoms etc. That way anyone seeing your name in the phone book, online or in the high street instantly knows what it is you do or offer.

Thinking Of Names

With the above in mind, it is now worth coming up with some name ideas for your business. You may already have some ideas, however, if you find you’re struggling a good brainstorming session always helps. Remember in brainstorming you should write down every idea you have, regardless of how good it is, to get it out of your system and get the creative juices flowing. Once you have finished, go through the list and pick out maybe 3 or 4 that are your favourites and do a mini SWOT analysis on them to see which names actually achieve what you want for your brand.

If you are struggling to think of anything, do some competitor research and see what your competitors are calling themselves and think about how their names make you feel. Clearly copying any of your competitors’ names should be avoided due to copyright and other legal issues, but seeing what sort of names work best in the business, can really help you narrow down your choices or come up with new ideas.

Online Presence

To some this will be their whole shop door, while to others this will be a valuable form of marketing to drive customers their way.

The name of your company has an effect on the search engine ratings and it might be worth considering maximising your name’s potential to appear on the first page. Google can help with this: Google Analytics (which is free and fairly easy to use) has a tool where you can see trends in searched words and phrases. Eg, it will show you that someone looking for bookkeeping services in Wrexham may have searched for “bookkeepers Wrexham”, “Bookkeeping services” “Bookkeeping consultants” etc. Google Analytics gives you a wealth of useful information, such as, the most searched for words by location/globally and what terms have seen the most increase in the number of searches recently. It is worth considering whether you want to use one of these most searched terms in your company name to boost its visibility on the search engines.

Your website will also play an important role in your marketing and you will want a domain that is as close to your company name as possible and ideally covers as many of the URL locations you can (such as and .com).

The easiest way to check the availability of a website name is to go to one of the many online hosting companies and use their availability checker to see if your website is available. This may have an effect on your final choice of name as if you cannot get the page associated with it without making it complex, or if there is someone else using a similarly named page that is offering similar services (or worse something unpleasant), then you might want to think again.

Bear in mind that your email address will often come from your website, for example, will probably own the email addresses *** .

Ensuring Your Company Name Is Available

When you are registering your company with Companies House they will only allow you to register names that are not already in use by another company on the register.
A search on their online register WebCHeck reveals companies with similar names in the UK and if your name is available. If you are not UK based there should be an equivalent service in your country.

It is worth checking out any company with a similar name to see what they do and whether their existence will have any effect on you being called a similar thing. It is also worth checking out by googling the name, or by using other countries’ registers, whether anyone has copyright over any part of your name, or of a similar brand offering a similar service. This due diligence could save you a fortune in copyright infringement court cases when someone thinks your name is too close to theirs.

So all in all naming your startup is a big decision and as you can see not one to be rushed.