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How do I name my company?

When you’re starting a business one of the most exciting moments is when you come to choose your company name. It’s important, and it’s always something you want to get right. After all, you’re likely to be living with that name for some considerable time. Sometimes people have a strong idea about what they want their new venture to be called. At other times, it’s less clear cut. In some cases, the decision can seem like something of a minefield.

Here we take a quick look at naming your company, how you do it and why it’s important.

Tips when coming up with a company name

It might be that you’re full of inspiration and already have what you consider to be a great name for your business. It’s worthwhile pausing for a moment and considering a few basic practicalities before going public with your name.

  • Spelling Is your name difficult to spell or pronounce? A simple point but one that often gets overlooked.
  • Don’t pick a name that’s too narrow Will your company name still be relevant as your business grows, or might it be restricting? The best names tend to be memorable but non-specific. When Jeff Bezos started his online bookselling business, he didn’t call it ‘Bay Area Books’, he opted for Amazon.
  • Check the internet You should conduct a thorough internet search and find out who else is using your name. If you have global online ambition it may need to be completely unique. Otherwise, ensure that anyone with the same name isn’t operating in your area or industry.
  • Ensure it has meaning Your business name should convey something positive and meaningful about your business.
  • Check domain names Is your business name available as an internet domain? If not, it will mean that your website address will have to be significantly different from your business name which could lead to confusion.

How to check a company name is available

Something else you’ll need to consider if you’re setting up a limited company is whether or not the name has already been registered with Companies House. This can easily be done by searching the company name availability checker at the government website.

In the past it was common for companies to get around name clashes by adding terms such as “Ltd” to their name. While this will enable you to register your name it may not provide the differentiation you’re looking for. If you find your name is already taken it’s better to be creative and find something different, than merely change the word order or make a similar small change.

What to avoid

There are a few obvious points you might want to avoid:

  • Make sure you don’t choose a “difficult” name. This might be because of its spelling, its pronunciation, or because it’s too obscure and doesn’t really relate to your business.
  • Don’t make it too local. Your business may grow outside of its original area and it can lead to some potential customers concluding that your business doesn’t apply to them.
  • Don’t play too safe or be too obscure. Try to make sure your name is understandable and relatable, but not so obvious it’s immediately unmemorable.
  • Not getting feedback. Never launch your name until you’ve heard a range of opinions about it. Ask people both inside and outside of your industry.

What you need to consider from a branding point of view

Your name is the first thing people considering your business will encounter. It needs to make an immediate impact and it needs to reflect your overall branding. It’s no good having a serious, authoritative name if your branding is fun and light-hearted. Your company name is an important part of the whole branding exercise and one of the principal tools by which your brand identity will be communicated.

Before you decide on a name you should think about your whole brand identity. What is your mission as a company, what are the values that underpin what you’re doing, how does your company differ from the competition, how is it similar? Then take a look at the names of your closest competitors. What do you like about them and what do you dislike?

By working on your broader brand identity, a name may become more obvious. Your company name should arise from your branding, not be imposed awkwardly upon it.

Should you change an existing company name?

It’s perfectly possible to change your company name, but is it always a good idea?  If you’re not a limited company, all you have to do is announce your change and revise your branding accordingly. If you are limited company, there’s a procedure to follow, the details of which are available on the government website.

Changing a company name is not something to be done lightly, however. It can be confusing for existing customers, breaking their emotional connection with your brand. It also involves outlay. Would it be better to invest that money in a new marketing strategy rather than a new name?

As a general rule, once you’ve decided on a name it’s unwise to change it unless your business has changed radically from its original form, e.g. you began as a plumbing business but now build houses.

If you’ve taken on a struggling company, then a new name may be justified, and could be an intelligent way to signal that you’re making a new start and the direction you’ll be taking.

At Dawn Creative we help companies through the entire branding process, bringing their ideas to life and giving them a competitive edge

Why not contact us to find out how we can help you get your company name right from the start?

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