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How NOT to name your business

In the current series of Dragons’ Den a company called Yogiyo were questioned on how they came up with their company name. They explained that Yogiyo in Korean means “over here”. “An attention grabbing brand name”. The company was criticised as they were unable (at the time) to obtain the .com URL, as it had already been purchased.

This got me thinking about company names and the other pitfalls to avoid when choosing your name.

How not to name your business

Making the name misleading, obscene or confusing

There are restrictions and rules on what you can call your company. Companies House will reject any names they deem offensive, such as swear words.The Competition and Markets Authority warns businesses against misleading clients about the services on offer, costs, the geographic scope of the business or the relationship with other businesses, so be aware of these things when choosing your name.

Using a name which is already registered

Your business name can’t give rise to obvious confusion or be the same as an existing name on the Companies House register. Your name must be unique! It’s easy to check the register for pre-existing companies.

Using a name which is already trademarked

Its likely that if you want to want to register your business at Companies House you will want to register your brand as a trademark. Check the name you’ve chosen isn’t registered already. If it is, it may still be possible to register it for your company provided your products or services are different from the company that has registered your preferred name.

Limiting yourself by product or location

Consider how you might expand and what products or services you might move into when naming your company. Naming your business “London’s Premier Cat Supplies” limits you to location and cat products – which could be tricky when you are ready to expand into a global pet supply company.

Not checking your domain name is available

You will likely want to set up a website for your business. Check your ideal domain is available before settling on a business name. If the .com or .co.uk URL isn’t available you can use another – but having either or both of these is ultimately preferable. You can check whether a domain is available on GoDaddy or any other domain registration site.

Not doing any research

Check if there are other businesses with similar names. Search results could reveal some adverse publicity about another business with a similar name. Also check if your brand name means something in another language, especially if you intend to trade in that country!

Naming your business with something forgettable, too long or complicated to say

Try and pick a name that is “sticky” ie a catchy name, memorable name that is  5 – 10 letters long. A shorter name will look better in a tweet, email subject line or on an app icon.

Deciding on a name in a day

Take time to choose a name and test it out. Remember contracts that name your company as a party are invalidated if you change your name, so it’s much easier to pick a name that will last. Test your company name on lots of people – not family and friends. Take at least a month, do your research, test your name, create a shortlist and test again.

Choosing a name that is completely irrelevant

Some companies have invented names, which have no indication of what they sell or do eg Kodak. These names can work – but as they have no meaning, brands which use made up words have to rely on adverti$ing to showcase their products. Choosing a name which has an indication of what you sell or do makes it much easier for the customer to choose you and is potentially much cheaper, as you don’t have to rely on marketing to tell people what it is you do or sell.

Take a look at Rocket Lawyer’s startup page for more resources and guidance to help you #getstartedup

Camilla Johnson

Camilla Johnson

Camilla Johnson is the digital acquisition specialist for Rocket Lawyer UK. She has a law degree from Keele University, a post graduate diploma in professional legal practice and a diploma in digital marketing.
Camilla Johnson

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