How to name business ventures in 11 steps (with registration)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A business is a vital part of its establishment; it forms part of its identity. The meaning of the name, its origin, uniqueness, sound and significance are factors to consider when naming a business. The process of naming a business can be long and challenging but worth the effort eventually. In this article, we discuss the significance of a business name, offer tips for registering your business name and explain how to choose a suitable name for your business.

Why a business name is important

Names are a formal way of identifying an entity, which is why it's always important to know how to name business ventures for the best effect. It also distinguishes a living being or inanimate object from other similar entities. A business name is the legal title under which an individual, group or business operates. In addition to identifying a company, a business name forms part of the impression clients have of an organisation.

In many cases, you can tell what an organisation specialises in by learning its name. A business name can also express the beliefs, ethics, affiliations and priorities of an organisation. Your business name is also a way of assuring your customers that you remain committed to your goals and their interests. Take your time to think carefully about your business name before registering it.

Related: How to start a business in 11 easy steps

How to name a business

Learning how to name a business can be complicated. It takes a period of careful deliberation to brainstorm a fitting name that portrays what your business embodies. Follow these steps to name your company:

1. Find a name your company can grow with

A company name can outlive the founders and those who formed the idea. When brainstorming how to name your business, choose one relevant for now and for the future. Also, avoid localised names that may limit the growth of your business.

2. Choose a name that can encourage growth

There is no sure way to predict how long a business can stay relevant from the start. If you plan to expand in the future, use names that permit inclusion and expansion. For instance, if your business produces ties for men, avoid names like 'Male Ties' or 'Ties for Him'. A decade later, ties may become a fashion trend for women.

Related: How to create a business growth strategy (step-by-step)

3. Choose an easy-to-spell name

Having a business name that is easy to spell can make it easy for customers to identify with. If you use simple names, ensure that the pronunciation mirrors the spelling. It can help avoid ambiguity, mistaken identity and encourage investors to associate with you.

4. Ensure that the name sounds appealing

Besides the spelling, the pronunciation of your business name matters. Regardless of the nature of your business, make the name sound catchy and easy to pronounce. Also, ensure that the name is easy to remember and keep it as short as possible.

5. Choose a name that hints at your business operations

Having the right business name is also a way of promoting it. Form a business name that is self-explanatory even to those who know little or nothing about it. Consider including a keyword that relates to the scope of your business. Although some top companies have names that do not relate to what they are about, taking this route can be risky and slow down your business promotion process.

Related: What are tactics in business and why are they useful?

6. Find a name that can match a domain name

While you brainstorm how to name a company, consider the online promotion of the business. Creating a domain name that doesn't match your business name can be confusing to customers. In your search for a business name, ensure that it is also available as a domain name.

Related: A guide to domain vs URL (similarities and differences)

7. Use a name finder for a unique name

To make finding a business name easier, you can use a name finder to get unique names. There are various websites and applications for generating a business name. After inserting the keywords of your business and industry, the website generates a name for it.

8. Find a name that makes sense to you

Although including keywords from your industry or your business goals is vital to having a purposeful business name, ensure that the name is meaningful to you. Choose a name you can be proud of: one you don't mind going by as an alias. Your own satisfaction with your business name is vital to maintaining an interest in the business.

9. Get a matching domain name

Creating a website becomes a necessary step towards promoting a business once you start one. Get a domain name that is identical to or the same as the business name. There are various domain names for naming your business, including .biz, .com or .co.uk. Further, create social media profiles for your business using the same business name and domain name to encourage user-friendliness.

10. Check for trademark issues

Before getting a trademark, run one last name check. The UK Intellectual Property Office has a database of all registered businesses. If you don't find the proposed name of your company on the list, you can trademark it.

Related: Trademark vs. copyright (Definitions and differences)

11. Get a second opinion

After you research a business name, ask for a second opinion from those close to you. Also, ask experts and people who are impartial for their view of the name. If it sounds appealing, unique and they can easily associate the name with your brand, you have chosen a good business name.

How to register your business name

Naming a company is different from naming a human. Humans can bear the same name with similar spellings and sounds without any opposition or legal consequences. A business name can sound the same and have some similarities, but it requires uniqueness in spelling. Before registering your business, be sure that the name is unique and that another entity has not registered it. Registering a business name is crucial; it keeps other companies or individuals from using it for their gain. Follow these steps to register your business:

1. Run a thorough name check

You can register a business name before you are ready to start the business. Before continuing the registration, run a name check to ensure the name is not already in use. If you choose a business name that is the same or similar to a pre-registered company's name, you may have your application denied, especially when another entity files a complaint.

You can register your business as a limited company or a corporation. To register a private limited company in the UK, the business name can only end in 'Limited' or 'Ltd'. If you registered the company in Wales, the company name can have 'Cyfyngedig' or 'Cyf' at the end. The governing body can also deny your company name registration if it is similar to an existing company's name yet differs in:

  • punctuation

  • special characters or texts

  • certain terms common among companies in the UK.

For example, the law views 'M&M Ltd' and 'Em and Em Limited' as the same. Likewise, 'Barz UK Ltd' is also the same as 'Bars Limited'. You can only use similar names if the other party permits you. The exception to this rule is if your business does not pay shareholders or promotes religion, charity, science, commerce, a profession or education.

2. Get a trademark for your company name

Registering your company name and having a trademark are two separate things. The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) is the authorised body for registering trademarks. You can check their list of trademarks to ensure that yours is not already in use. If someone else registers the business name first, it becomes theirs. If another company already goes by the name, hire a solicitor who can help you agree with the current owner to purchase the rights to it. You also have the right to oppose a registered business name if you have the trademark.

Related: How to trademark a name and logo (With details and benefits)

3. You can register a different trading name for your company

Registering your business name ensures that only you have the right to use the name to promote any product, service or event. Trading names are names a business, individual or group use for business, separate from their official registered company name. Although a company can have only one registered name, it may have multiple trading names. With a trading name, you cannot use 'Limited', 'Ltd', LLP, PLC or a public limited company. Also, you are to avoid using sensitive expressions or words in the trading name.

Related: 8 essential business manager skills

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. This article is based on information available at the time of writing, which may change at any time. Indeed does not guarantee that this information is always up-to-date. Please seek out a local resource for the latest on this topic.

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