Although most people focus on the documentation required when forming a limited company, one of the most important tasks is naming the business.
There are rules to comply with when selecting a name for your company. The right name will act as a promotional tool, attracting new customers and forming your brand identity. However, the wrong name for your business can not only end up in trouble but can also create the wrong image for your business, losing valuable custom.
When starting a business, some people are intimidated by the amount of administration required to form and run a limited company. Setting up as a sole trader is the easier option, with much less administration. Whichever business type you decide on, you will still want a company name, although a sole trader can trade under the individual’s name. There are basic principles which apply to choosing a name for any business, but before you register your limited company or Limited Liability Partnership with Companies House, you may wish to check that all the regulations have been complied with.
Depending on the business structure that you have chosen, your company name must end in either ‘Ltd’ or ‘LLP’. The Companies House website has a list of registered companies and you must search this to make sure there isn’t another company with a business name which is either the same as or similar to the one you have chosen. If a company name is similar to another and could be confused with another business, you may receive an official complaint. If another company believes that you have chosen a business name which could be mistaken for theirs, a complaint may be lodged with the Companies House registrar. If the registrar upholds the complaint you will have to change your company name within 12 weeks.
Your business name should be original and not similar in any way to another company, especially registered trademarks. A check can be made on the website of the Intellectual Property Office. It is better to make all the necessary checks before registering your company, rather than waste time and money setting up a company website and publishing branded stationery only to have to start all over again. Using offensive language or expressions as part of a company name is not allowed, unsurprisingly. Some words or terms are also restricted in a company name, like the use of a word which deems national importance or a connection to the royal family or government, for instance.
Once you have the legal aspects clear, you can concentrate on finding a business name which will convey the right image. The company name should reflect the type of business and the image, like whether it is a modern or traditional business. Something simple that easily conveys what your company does is easier for customers to remember and may also be beneficial if you have a company website which you want to be ranked by search engines.
The company name should be simple enough to be used on stationery, the company logo, advertising and signage. Consider how the name will sound when you answer a business call. When deciding on a business name, look ahead and see if the name will still be appropriate in a few years when you may have expanded the company. If you intend to trade internationally, ensure that the company name doesn’t translate to anything which could be offensive in another language.
Your choice of business name is much more than complying with legislation, it will brand your company for many years.
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