When you decide to work for yourself, a lot of the paperwork that you need to do can seem pretty boring, but choosing a name for your company is one area where you can put your creative skills to the test. The direction you choose to go in will depend on the field in which you work, the way you want to market yourself and any conventions that exist in your sector. There are a number of things to consider when picking a name for your company, not least the fact that you will be using it a lot so you want to make it something that you are completely happy with. We have created this page which contains more information on forming a limited company.

Who are your clients?

It is important to consider your client base when you name your company, as they will need to be able to spell and ideally pronounce the name you choose. If you expect to do a lot of international business, you might wish to choose a name which is simple and easy for those who may not speak English as a first language. It can also be worth checking that your chosen name doesn’t use any words which might have another meaning in another language, as you don’t want to end up giving your business which has an unintended translation which could cause confusion or even offence.

You might also want to think about whether your business will be dealing directly with end clients or mostly trading with other businesses. If it is the former, then you may want your company name to convey some of the details of what you actually do, in simple language which will be the first opportunity to ‘sell’ your services. For companies dealing with other business, a more technical approach to naming your company could be a consideration as you may wish to include some terminology which demonstrates your understanding of the industry and your specific skill set.

Marketing your business

For most people, setting up their own website will be an important part of marketing their business, and the natural choice for a domain name will be their company name. It is worth bearing this in mind when choosing a business name, as the simplest way to do this is to run the words together, which can be difficult if your company name is very long, complex or contains words which could be ambiguous when combined. If you find yourself having to hyphenate or otherwise punctuate your company name in order to make a readable URL, then you might want to choose another name or use a more generic version for your site. You may also find that your first choice of names has already been acquired as a URL which might make it an unsuitable choice, so if having your company and website names the same is important to you then it makes sense to check the availability of both before you make any decisions.

Creating a website will also allow you to be found by potential clients, so including some keywords in your company name could help you to be more visible to people who might be searching for your services. Including specialist skills or qualifications that are specific to your industry or in high demand can make your site (and therefore your business) easier to find when it comes to search engines, databases or other business directories.

 Setting up a Limited Company

Describing your business

Big businesses spend thousands of pounds on consultants to help them come up with a branding strategy which will make their company appeal to their potential customer base. Looking at everything from the associations that people have with certain words to the way sounds and syllables work together, to the impact that a logo can have and the effect of particular colours and shapes on people’s perception of a business. This is particularly important if you decide to go for an abstract rather than a descriptive name as you will need to avoid misleading impression of what you do whilst choosing an option which hints at your company’s purpose without stating it explicitly. If you are concerned that an abstract name might not convey your business function effectively, then including a strap-line that you can incorporate in your logo could prove a good compromise.

Although there is usually no need to hire in experts when you first start off, asking your friends, colleagues and industry contacts what they think of any potential company name and logo is often enough to steer you in the right direction.

Similar names

In sectors and industries which are highly competitive, there could be hundreds or even thousands of businesses all using similar terminology for their company name, so you will want to consider how to choose one which will stand out from the rest. Using your name can be a good way to distinguish yourself, especially if you have a reputation in your field, but this may not work if you have a particularly common name or one which is shared with someone who works in a similar area.

It is also worth doing a little research into variations of your chosen name to ensure that there isn’t a company already trading with a similar title, as that could create confusion and potentially conflict. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you are accused of using another company’s reputation to further your business, or find your trade suffering because of a negative association with another company.

  making contracting

To pun or not to pun

You may have already come up with a business name which you love, and some of the ones which appeal most are particularly clever or funny names that suit the company perfectly. However, if you are considering a company name which features a pun, play on words or other element of humour, then it may be worth considering the long-term before deciding to settle. If your business has the potential to expand or diversify then you don’t want to be tied to a name which might not reflect your future plans.

It is also worth considering whether you will be as proud of your company name if you find yourself in the position of seeking investment or backing from external parties. In that situation, you will want to present yourself in as professional a light as possible, which may be hard to do if you have chosen a name which relies on a joke which is slightly risqué or a pun which may not translate to those who do not know the industry.

Restricted terms

There are some words and terms which are considered inherently sensitive and are restricted by Companies House, but you will be informed if your company name uses any of them when you register. This can be because you have chosen a name which is close to one which is already registered and you will be given a chance to choose an alternative if this does happen, but the name checking service will usually alert you to the possibility of this happening before you reach that stage.

Sensitive terms include those which could cause offence, anything which implies affiliation with the government or other public body, any words which reference a regulated activity or any terms which suggest a level of official status.

Choosing a company name will require a combination of creativity and critical thinking, but you will be using the name a lot so it’s worth making sure that you are happy with your choice and the message it conveys before you commit to it.

If you would like to speak to someone about forming your limited company, or if there is anything else we can help you with, you can email newbusiness@nixonwilliams.com or call us on 01253 362026.