By Jonathan London on 29th May 2015

Six Tips for naming your Limited Company

Understandably, when it comes to naming your Limited Company, it can be a daunting prospect. It’s comparable to choosing a name for your first child – you want to get it right and you hope no-one is going to judge you badly for it. At least with babies you can find inspiration from the family tree, but as company names need to be unique this method isn’t an option. Unfortunately they don’t publish books called ‘Top 100 Limited Company Name Ideas’.

However to start off in the right direction, there are some hard and fast rules which need to be obeyed:

  • Your company name cannot be the same – or too similar to – an existing company (you can search the Companies House database here). It also can’t infringe on any Trademarks.
  • It shouldn’t imply that your business is connected with the Government or local authority.
  • The name can’t be offensive.
  • It must have the required permission in order to include sensitive words (such as ‘chartered’ or ‘association’).
  • Certain punctuation symbols cannot be used.

Even if naming your business seems little more than a formality, it’s useful to choose a name that fits you, the service you offer and the industry you work in.

If you still haven’t been struck by divine inspiration, here are our top tips on getting the name right for your company:

Try before you buy

Clothing shops have changing rooms and a 28 day returns policy for a reason – people have a habit of changing their minds about things. The same goes with company names. If you think you’ve decided on a name or whittled some options into a shortlist, it’s a good idea to ask friends and family for their opinion. When brainstorming, think about how you’ll talk about your work and whether your business name will be a prominent part of your branding, on your website, business cards and other marketing collateral. Visualising using the name will help you decide whether it’s a goer or not.

Think about the stationery

Your company name needs to be included on all business communications. If you’re not happy to print it on a letterhead or emblazon it on pens, it’s probably not the business name for you.

Be simple

Sometimes, simple is best. Long-winded company names are easily forgotten and they’re really hard to fit on business cards. Of course, you can always just go with your own name – but if it’s Smith or Jones, this might cause more problems than it solves.

Look for URLs

Before registering your company, check that the URLs are available and snap them up quickly. Also make sure that when written as one strand it’s still understandable. Having a promotional website for your Limited Company can help to demonstrate that you fall outside of IR35, because you are in business on your own accord.

Google it

It’s wise to search your company name idea for two reasons. Firstly, it’ll show whether there are any companies with the same or similar name. Secondly, it’ll give you a good idea of the kind of competition you’ll have for search rankings once you’ve set up a website. If a company with a similar name provides a similar service, it might be worth reconsidering the name you’ve picked in order to avoid confusing people looking for you online.

Future-proof your brand

Although at the moment you might consider your one-man-band as a small fish in a big pond, it could be that in five years’ time your finances are telling a very different story. Sure, you’re currently a freelancer or contractor trading as a limited company in order to save some money. But in the future, it could be really beneficial having a strong and recognisable brand name ready-to-go.

You may decide you want to capitalise on a current trend, but bear in mind that this could make your company look dated or out-of-touch in a year’s time. Twerking and double denim won’t be cool forever and although fashions often make a comeback, you don’t want to be the person who has to wait ten years for their company name to be topical again.

Of course, if you do suddenly decide in a few years down the line that you hate your company name? You can always change it for a small filing fee. Nike was originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports, Google used to be called BackRub and Xerox once traded as The Haloid Company (catchy, huh?). However bear in mind that once you’re established, this could be confusing for your clients and expensive for you to change all of your branded material. Perhaps avoid anything diamond-encrusted, just in case.

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

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