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What's in a name?

Last updated
9th November 2020
Written by
Sam Simpson

You've got a great idea; you have run it past a few friends whose opinion you trust and they have all given it the thumbs-up. You are now ready to create your company, but first you need to come up with a name. In this article, we mainly focus on the legal element of registering a name, as opposed to marketing aspect. Don’t forget that a good and effective business name can also be your most powerful branding tool. So, you should give a lot of time and thought when coming up with it.

Finding a name that you and your founders agree on can be a surprisingly challenging and time-consuming process. If you are the only founder, it’s much easier, but do run the name by friends and family for their ideas and feedback.

Thankfully, there are lots of online resources and business name generators such as Namelix, Shopify and Oberlo that can help you. Good luck!

Once you have decided on a company name, it’s important to check a few things:

  1. Do an online search using your chosen business name. If someone else has a similar name in the same or a related sector, or if it is already used by a large business in any sector, you may want to reconsider.
  2. Is the name already registered at Companies House? It’s easy to check it out.
  3. Are relevant domain names available? Most UK founders want .com and co.uk as a minimum. You don't just want one of these and find that someone else tries to compete with you or even worse, puts something distasteful on the other domain. There are lots of online domain tools available, we like this one - a simple google search will proved a whole host of other offerings.
  4. Is the name already registered as a trademark of someone else? Even if you aren't going to register the trademark yourself, you don't want to start by infringing someone else’s registration. You can check those details for UK registrations and for EU registrations.

Once you have checked the four points above and are happy, one last consideration is to make sure you aren’t unintentionally exploiting another brand name (e.g. calling a search engine Doogle, or similar!). If that’s all OK, then well done, you've selected a name. You’ve completed the first step on your journey.

So next, when you are ready, is to legally create your company. There is an excellent article here talking through the possible options and how you go about it.

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