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6 top tips for choosing a business name

By Tim Fuell - January 30, 2013

You have a new idea, you want to start a new business, but how do you choose that success-riddled and award-winning business name? Here’s six tips to help you make your choice of name for your business:

1 Don’t limit your future

Having a name that sounds cutting edge now may have immediate impact but in two years or so it may sounds very tired and outdated. Choose a name that has longevity as changing your brand once launched will be much more difficult. Also don’t necessarily limit your name to a ‘sector’ sounding one. It may be that you will want to diversify into other lines in the future which is less easy of your company name is too descriptive of another sector.

2 Don’t limit your markets

Just as choosing a sector limiting name could be restrictive for future expansion plans so choosing one that fails in translation could be too. Be careful. The world is a big but smaller place thanks to the internet, so while you may not immediately be considering selling overseas, it may become a possibility very quickly. Does your name translate well? Many a business has found themselves with a name that means something far different than they originally intended, once it has been translated into another language.

3 Follow the law

There are rules and regulations about what names you can and can’t use when setting up in business, especially if you go down the limited company route as many will. Trying to sound too much like an existing business or brand will only get you in trouble and making claims you can’t sustain – such as using words like Royal or a professional qualification you clearly don’t hold – is a big no, no. The Gov.uk website contains detailed information on naming rules and regulations. It is also worth checking out the Intellectual Property Office’s Trademark database to ensure you won’t fall foul of any infringement there too.

4 Think brand

Remember your company name will have a big impact on everything you do, especially online, so make sure that the relevant assets are available too. Keep it simple so that all domain names share similar properties as do your social media handles. In the modern world it is likely you will probably want the .co.uk and .com domain names to be the same, possibly domains from other countries too and all to match with your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, et al presences.

5 Think spelling

If your company name can be easily misspelled, then it is easily missed too. Every now and then there is a trend to use Z instead of S, or to trendily spell a word, usually so the requisite domain name can be secured too. This is not always good practice. While many will look online and probably find you if your SEO is right, many will also go from word of mouth so if your company name sounds a bit too much like something else you could be missing out. Also is it easy for people to spell down the phone? It is you who will find the latter highly frustrating just weeks into your proposed business venture.

6 Keep it simple

Long-winded names are unlikely to become big hitters. Quite frankly we can’t think of any. Apple, Dell, Google, Amazon, etc. Short-sharp and simple wins every time. It is more memorable, easier to write or type and simpler to engage with. In the modern age of sharing, it works far better too, remember a brand that uses up less of the 140 character limit on Twitter has more room for their message and is infinitely more re-tweetable.

Of course there are many considerations before you start searching for your domain name and the legal ones are right up there so it pays to get some professional advice too. The choice of your business name could be the most important decision you ever make so it is not one to be rushed or taken on a whim. Good luck choosing yours and let us know any tips you have about making your choice.