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What's in a business name?

  1. Hannah Fullegar

    Hannah Fullegar UKBF Contributor Full Member

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    So, you’ve had the lightbulb moment and you’ve put a business plan into place. Now, all you need is a name that encapsulates what you do.

    But you’re either completely stumped or you can’t decide. Choosing a name can be incredibly straightforward or incredibly complicated. Luckily, across the threads, there’s a lot of  great advice from savvy UKBFers who have been through it all before.

    Brand, marketing and research first

    Your business’s name isn’t just a name. It’s the first impression; the bigger picture of your business and what you can offer. But while it’s crucial, UKBF member All Up Here reminds members not to overthink the name – it doesn’t necessarily matter as much as strong marketing does.

    Ethical PR advises that the brand should be concentrated on and developed first because a “strong, clear brand helps you stand out from the crowd.” The name should be an informed decision, once you’ve considered your USP, what you want your brand to achieve and say to prospective customers, and how you want to market this.

    That’s why research should be the first thing you do, especially before you get set on anything. Alan advocates research from the get go: are there businesses that go by the names you’re deliberating over? Do any competitors use those names? Would they object, or could you be considered as passing off and misleading people to believe that goods/services are someone else's?

    When it comes to creative restrictions, Voidless points out that some businesses like Innocent and Gap have been successful in picking random words and then working to build associations with their brand name. However, SnappyJen believes a logical approach would be more beneficial: incorporating something that is indicative of your products so that you come up in online searches.

    Using your own name

    Some members advocate naming your business after yourself. According to Estwig, you should put your money where your mouth is and stand by your work: this “shows pride, intent and honesty”, compared to hiding behind a nondescript name.

    But even this choice should be kept simple – and professional. Gecko001 guides users to “stay away from initials and made up words” as these can be difficult to remember. Similarly, Mike W recommends full names over nicknames as the former implies quality and purpose.

    Industry research can help, too. What  have professionals and businesses in your industry called themselves? As Martacus says, businesses with their founder’s names work well for craft businesses and those based on trust like law and accountancy, but aren’t so common for those that are manufacturing, design or hi-tech based.

    To be specific or not?

    Interestingly, to be specific or not splits opinion. JamesWW says you don’t need to list everything you do in the name of your business. Instead, you can utilise a punchy tagline to let everyone know.

    This is precisely why fisicx advocates naming a business after yourself – that way you aren’t tied down to a particular material, genre or location. You may just be starting out now, but what if you become wildly successful and your company goes global? Although you’re only focusing on customers in your local area now, as Estwig warns, basing a name on geographical location could be potentially limiting. Toby Willows reasons that “broader is better to allow for expansion.”

    Registering your business name

    Use Companies House to see if the business name you have in mind is available, though be aware it’s just a register of limited companies. Registering doesn’t give you the right to trade under that name if someone (including sole traders in the same industry or locale to you), is already using that name to trade.

    While you may be doing something completely different to the business or company, KAC says that it’s just not worth the hassle and Gecko001 warns that doing so is a risk. Regardless of being in different sectors “the other business or company may see it as a threat to their brand.”

    To register a trademark you’ll need details of what you want to register: a word, illustration or slogan, as well as the trade mark class and number you want to register in e.g. food and drink services (class 43). Your unique trademark can’t contain sensitive words or be misleading. Registering will enable you to put the ® symbol after your brand, signifying your ownership. You can then sell and license your brand, and take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permission.

    To find out more about registering a trademark, business, business partnership, or limited company visit:

    https://www.gov.uk/how-to-register-a-trade-mark

    https://www.gov.uk/limited-company-formation

     

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