How do I present my brand, and what are the rules?

People often give very little thought to the name of their business when they are starting up.  They are influenced by all sorts of different things but rarely sit back and think it through logically. Ultimately the name of your business may well be the first thing a potential customer (or staff member) will see. They say that people get fourteen first impressions in the first seven seconds after meeting someone. The same applies to the name of your business.  So, what sorts of things should you think about when choosing a name?

First, as many of you know I often talk about whether your business is a Ronald or an Elton. ‘Ronalds’ are those who sit behind the front line directing strategy, dealing with marketing and developing systems. They are not the ones that the customers come in to contact with. Is that what that your business aspires to be?

One of our close competitors has their own name over the door yet it is not him that deals with customers on a day to day basis. As a result, often clients go to that practice because of that person but when they get there they find that they are dealing with somebody else. The name over the door turned out to be misleading.

With that in mind, perhaps you should think about a name for your business that says what you do. For example, if you sell widgets in Walsall then Walsall Widgets might be the best name for your business. It does what it says on the tin.

But then you have the ‘Eltons’, and their business is all about them. If you are a specialist in aeronautics and your name is David Smith then David Smith Aeronautics should probably be the name of your business. People are coming to the business because of you and what it is that you do. Often people are embarrassed to have their name on their business. But it becomes far more confusing when they are trying to get work and must constantly explain that a particular business is actually them. Why not just be brave enough to put your name over the door?

Then of course there are those that go the other way. It is all about their ego and they want their name over the door. There used to be a firm of solicitors nearby that had four names in the title. And some of them were very long names. I’m sure it did them no favours when it came to trying to get new business.

Of course, large companies have got past this. WH Smiths means books, newspapers and stationery to all of us. But that only works because they are a huge company. If they were just based in Runcorn then they would probably be better calling themselves Runcorn Books & Stationery. Again, it does what it says on the tin.

Of course, these days there is another issue that you need to consider…

Whatever name you choose you want to make sure that the domain name is available. There is no point coming up with a catchy name and then finding out that somebody else in a different part of the country has that domain name already registered. You are just spending a whole lot of money and time promoting a name which will end up causing confusion or generating business for other people.

All in all, this is an art rather than a science but the name of your business is probably the most important decision you will ever make.

What are the rules from Companies House?

There are approximately 4 million businesses registered in the UK with Companies House. This means there are 4 million businesses with different names.Companies House vet the business names for any that are too similar to those already in existence, or recently dissolved. They do this so that each business retains its own identity to the general public.

So as long as I’m different, I’m fine, right?

Not necessarily. Companies House do veto certain terms to ensure they aren’t misleading. For example, you can’t have the term ‘Her Majesty’ included in your business name without approval from the cabinet office. To use the term ‘Chartered Accountants’ you’d need approval from your regulatory body. In the latter example, this shouldn’t dissuade you from choosing your identity, you will simply need to provide a letter or email of non-objection.

A full list of protected names can be found on Companies House Website


So, if it’s different, and not protected, everything else goes?

Almost. There is one final aspect to consider before registering your company, and that is, quite simply, is it offensive? Last year, nearly 50 company names were rejected! Rather than repeating some of the do-not-use terms now, I’ll let you review the list here


Plenty to think about. But don’t panic! If you’re in any doubt over the viability of your preferred company name, or you need assistance to set up and manage your own company, then do give us a shout!