Choose the right name for your business

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Yellow Belt
Choose the right name for your business

You are now at the stage where you must decide on a Business Name. Getting it right first time is essential. You 'll have all your stationery with your name on, you'll be informing others, such as the Inland Revenue about your business name, you'll likely be advertising your business, so your business name has to be right, and conform to the prevailing regulations.

It is a creative process, and one which can be rather enjoyable. Bear in mind that first impressions count, especially important where your customers are concerned.

While it may be tempting to try to stamp your individual personality on your business name, there are many other issues to consider. Being objective and choosing a name that reflects your business strategy can be more valuable than just trying to stamp your personality on it.

Creating the right impression

When you are generating ideas about a business name, you initially may want to focus on personal preference. You need to think objectively. Consider the customer before your own personal preferences.

Depending on your type of business, think of how your business name will sound on the phone, signage, stationery, advertisements, website, uniforms and so on.

Points to consider when choosing your business name

* Do you want the name to reflect what your business does - electricians, painting and decorating, cleaning, joiner? Or would something more abstract be suitable?
* Would it be a good idea to include your own name?
* Do you want a traditional-sounding name, conveying durability and old-fashioned values, or a modern name, suggesting a fresh, innovative approach?
* Think about the future - avoid words or phrases that are likely to date quickly. A name with say, 2009 in it will sound fresh this year, but what about next?
* Your name might sound good in English, but, if you plan to trade in other countries, will your name make sense, or even cause offense?
* Simple is often best. Keep away from very long names, and those with unusual spelling. Using a name that appears near the beginning of the alphabet should get seen earlier by potential customers if you advertise in directories.
* Think about using the name of the city or town in the business name if your business focuses on the local area.

Limited company names

If you've decided to form a limited company or limited liability partnership (LLP), you'll need to register your name and other details with Companies House.

Don't waste your time submitting a name which is unacceptable. It's vital to check that your proposed name doesn't break the rules BEFORE you complete the appropriate documentation.

Work through this list before you send your application to Companies House. Ensure that:

* your company name ends with limited, plc or Ltd for companies, or limited liability partnership, LLP or Welsh equivalents - this must not be used anywhere other than at the end of the name
* the name isn't offensive
* the name isn't the same as - or very similar to - one already in the register
* the name doesn't include any sensitive words or expressions - unless you have obtained permission to use them

The full version of these rules is given in the Companies House guidance booklets "Company Names" or "Limited Liability Partnership Formation and Names". You can phone the Companies House Contact Centre for a copy of the rules, or visit their website -
Business Names - GBF3
October 2008 - Version 17

Trade marks

Trademarks are jealously guarded. Always check that your proposed name isn't too similar to a word or expression that someone else has registered as a trade mark. It could save you embarrassing problems later on.

Complaints about company names

Objections about company names can be made to the Company Names Tribunal at the Intellectual Property Office.

Reasons for complaints about a name can be made on the basis that it:

* is similar to an existing company name being used by the person complaining
* its use in the UK could mislead by implying a connection to an existing company name

A complaint about a "name" can apply to company names - including trade names, brand names and registered trade marks.

You can find out whether your chosen name has already been registered as a trade mark on the Intellectual Property Office website.
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