How to choose (and protect) your company name

Company names are legally required when forming a company. That can be: a private limited company (Ltd), a limited liability partnership (LLP), a limited partnership (LP) or an ‘ordinary’ business partnership.

Assuming that you’ve carefully crafted your product or service, following what may have been months of market research to ensure there’s a need or want for your offering, you must now choose a company name that defines your offering in an instant.

This task may sound easy, however summarising your product or service within just a few words can quickly become a frustratingly challenging task. Here are our top tips for ensuring a smooth process:

Be aware of business names you can’t use

There are a few rules when it comes to choosing a company name:

– You must not suggest a connection with government or local authorities;

– You must not use an offensive word or term;

– You must seek special permission if you wish to use a sensitive word (which may represent a regulated activity, where the word may cause offence or where it suggests a pre-eminence, such as ‘British’, ‘Institute’ or ‘Tribunal)’;

– Ensure that your name isn’t already registered by another company, or is too similar to a name already in existence.

Be inspired and inspiring

Look at how similar companies have defined their offering in an instant; undertake market research as to the words that may come to mind when speaking of a company such as yours; consider the values of your company, your USP and the nuances that define your target market’s vocabulary.

If you become stuck in a rut with this then take a little time out. Some of the best brand names in the world have been conjured up whilst away from a computer, which includes Sarah Blakely’s inspiration for ‘Spanx’, which popped into her head whilst stuck in a traffic jam. Martha Lane Fox (founder of also provides solid advice when she says that you must “ensure your customers are… carried along by your brand proposition” (Business Zone 2007).

If you can’t be inspired, then be resourceful

If you’re truly stuck for ideas to define your company’s offering in an instant, then you may want to consider using the professional services of a copywriter that specialises in brand name copy. Such services can be sought relatively cheaply through freelancing websites and may well provide you with a sharper, more concise and more relevant a brand name than if you were to create it yourself.

Protect your brand name brain wave: Registering your name

Registering your company does not provide you with trademark protection of your brand name (although it does stop others from using your exact business name). In order to fully protect your business you need to first ensure that the name you’ve chosen isn’t already trademarked, and thereafter register for trademark protection (this can cost upwards of £170).

Before you register: A few more things to arrange

Once you’ve chosen your company name you may have a little further work to do before you can go ahead and register your company; alongside your company name you’ll additionally need the following further pieces of information.

– A company address;

– One or more directors;

– One or more shareholders;

– Agreement between all shareholders to create the company (this is known as a ‘memorandum of association’);

– Information about your company’s shares and their rights (this is known as a ‘statement of capital’);

– A document that outlays rules about how the company is run (this is known as ‘articles of association’).

Gathered all that you need?

Once you’re armed with all of the above information then it’s time to take the plunge and register your company. This is both exciting as well as super-easy, and can be completed within a few minutes – with all applications usually processed and ready to go within 24 hours. You can also register by post, through an ‘agent’ or by using a range of third party software, however registering directly online is the quickest, most straightforward option.

The fee for registering online starts from just just £16.99, although for those registering by post this rises to £40 and when going directly through Companies House. This latter option will also take the registration period up to between 8 and 10 days.

Image: business name ideas via Shutterstock

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