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How To Choose a Company Name for First Time Business Owners

If you’re setting up a company in the UK, one of the first steps to get your business up and running is choosing a name for your company. A company’s name and logo determines how your potential customers and partners view your company.

Thus, apart from setting a clear business direction and goal, choosing your company name can make or break your business as well, especially if it is still in the start-up stage. In this article, we will go through the importance of a good company name, how to be compliant with the law, and some tips to get your creative juices running.

Why Do I Need To Choose A Company Name?

When will you require a company name? If you are converting your sole trader business to a limited company, or simply starting a new business, you will need to choose your company name before you can apply to the Companies House.

Basically, if you have a company that you want to register, you will need a name for it in order to distinguish yourself amongst the millions of other companies out there.

Firstly, you have to ensure that your name is suitable for your business. For example, you do not want your business name to be anything related to “Electronics” if you are selling childcare products.

Secondly, you have to make sure that your chosen name is compliant with UK rules and restrictions. Mainly, these restrictions are found in the following:

  • The Companies Act 2006
  • The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/17)
  • The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/3140)

It helps if you have a rough idea on what you want to name your company, but if you are starting on a blank sheet of paper, you’ll find that it isn’t easy finding a name that is both legally compliant and available.

In order to avoid having your name rejected by the Companies House, we list out some restrictions that you should be aware of before you start choosing your company name.

Your limited company must follow the following requirements:

A private company limited by shares or guarantee

  • Your name must end with “Limited” or “LTD”

A Welsh private company limited by shares or guarantee, with a registered office in Wales

  • Your name must end with ‘Cyfyngedig’ or ‘CYF’

A public company limited by shares

  • Your name must end with end with ‘Public Limited Company’ or ‘PLC’

A Welsh public company limited by shares, with a registered office in Wales

  • Your name must end with ‘Cwmni Cyfyngedig Cyhoeddus’ or ‘CCC’

When Are You Exempt From Using “Limited” In Your Company Name?

If your company is a registered charity or limited by guarantee, you do not have to include “Limited” in your name. Furthermore, look at your company’s Articles of Association.

If it states the below, you are exempted from using “Limited”.

  1. Your company’s purpose is to promote or regulate art, science, education, commerce, religion, charity or any profession that is conducive to any of these purposes.
  2. Your company members do not receive payments or dividends from the company.
  3. our company’s income will be used to promote its purpose.
  4. If the company is wound up
    1. Business assets will be transferred to another body with a similar business purpose instead of being distributed amongst the members.
    2. Members are required to contribute to company assets if the company ends during their membership, or within a year of them not acting as a shareholder.

How To Check If The Name You Want Is Available?

In order to make sure your name is one-of-a-kind and does not clash with another already registered name, the best way is to check the Companies House register if there are any similar names out in the world.

Otherwise, another way is to do a Google search on your name, you’ll probably get a few similar results if your name is too common. That is a sign for you to switch paths instead of going with your chosen name.

Remember that when you incorporate your company with the Companies House, you register your company name as well. Therefore, you have to prepare a company name before you start your incorporation process.

Of course, there are times you feel stuck or unsure on how to continue on your incorporation journey. No worries, here at Osome, we assist entrepreneurs like yourself in all aspects of company registration.

Tips For Coming Up With Your Company Name

You will want to pick a name that is memorable, in line with your business operations, easy to pronounce over the phone, simple to spell as a web link, and compliant with the law. It may sound simple, but actually requires a lot of work. Fret not, here are some tips that you may find helpful.

  1. Choose a name that describes your business literally

For example, some popular names that have literal meaning include: Toys R Us, Burger King, Hertz Rent-A-Car.

  1. Make up a fun, new name

A totally random word made up of your favourite few alphabets. Just make sure it’s easy to pronounce and remember.

  1. Use a catchy phrase

A company name does not have to be traditional. Try something like: “Thankgoditsfriday.com”, “Canthelpfeelinggreat.com”, “Hakunamatata” etc.

  1. Use humour or puns

A clever play on words can help you stand out, but make sure that it is in line with your business. For example: A luggage company called “Lostmycase”, or a watch company called “Travelbackinntime”.

  1. Appeal to the locals

There are street names in the UK that are made famous. Some examples include: Oxford Street, Abbey Road, Brick Lane, Piccadilly, Shaftesbury Avenue etc. Try incorporating these names into your company name for that local touch.

Things To Avoid In Your Company Name

Your name cannot be the same as another already registered company’s name. Keep in mind that if your name is too similar, you will be asked to change it once someone makes a complaint.

  1. Similar names

Similar names refer to those that are pretty much identical to an existing name. The only difference is punctuation, special characters, a word used commonly in UK company names.

For example, “Burger King Ltd” is a registered name. If you want to register your name as  “Burgers King Ltd”, “Burger Kings Ltd”, “Burgers & Kings Ltd” etc, there is a high chance you will be rejected. Anyway, this is something you want to avoid, as it ruins the uniqueness of your name.

  1. Names that are too alike

For example, “Easy solutions for mums” is too similar to “EZ solutions 4 Mums”.

  1. Avoid offensive names

It is common sense to not use an offensive word in your company name. However, you may not realise that your name contains these words right off the bat. For example, stay clear of words such as “bugger”, “crap”, “damn”, “bloody” and more.

  1. Do not use sensitive words

Sensitive words can suggest a connection with government or local authorities, and they probably will have an issue with you using it, unless you get permission which will cause delays in your company incorporation. If in doubt, always check back with this list on which words you will need permission to use.

Next steps

After you’ve chosen your name and double checked it against any possible similar names, you will want to protect and register your company name as soon as possible.

Once you have formed your limited company with your chosen name at the Companies House, you have the rights to the name exclusively, and other companies can register it. You can also consider buying the domain names if you are planning to go the e-commerce route or simply have a website for your business. A suggestion is to purchase both dot com and dot co.uk endings if you plan to expand your business out of the UK in the future.

Well, if you are a seasoned entrepreneur, you can choose to incorporate your business yourself at the Companies House for a small fee. However, for new entrepreneurs and SMEs, we highly recommend you get the help of a professional team to assist you with the incorporation process.

Tip

Here at Osome, we have a group of dedicated professionals that help you with company incorporation in the UK online. If you’re having issues with accounting matters or need a professional accountant, Osome is here to guide you that. You don’t have to figure it all out alone!

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