Choosing a company name

Company formation agent Jordans shares the key points you need to consider before deciding on your start-up name

Choosing a company name sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, this aspect of the formation process can be a minefield, even for those in the know.

Whilst selecting a name can be a fun and creative thing to do it can also prove to be a complicated and frustrating process.

Here are Jordans top tips to get you started:

  1. Start by brainstorming with family friends and colleagues.
  2. Try to pick a name that will stick in people’s minds. Alliteration works well here – think Coca Cola or PayPal.
  3. Make it expressive so it says something about your business, not just now but where you want to be in the future.
  4. Avoid anything similar to your competition.
  5. Stay away from industry jargon – you might understand it but your audience may not.
  6. Remember short isn’t always sweet. Some long brand names work very well (think of memorable brands like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter or George Foreman’s Lean Mean Grilling Machine).
  7. Don’t restrict by using a geographic area or location – what happens if your business grows or you want to expand in the UK or even overseas?
  8. Make it easy to spell – chances are your customers will use Google to try and find you so make that as easy for them as you can.
  9. Don’t use anything that will date too easily.
  10. Come up with alternatives.

Having made your initial choice/s you’ll need to consider whether it meets Companies House requirements for registering a new company name, i.e.:

  • it must not be offensive
  • it must end with Limited or Ltd (or the Welsh equivalent)
  • it must not be the same as a company name that already appears on the register.

In addition, there are a number of restrictions and controls on your choice of company name, including sensitive words and expressions (e.g. “Group” or “Holdings”) and words, symbols and phrases which are ignored (e.g. “Company”, “Services” and “UK” or the use of commas and full stops as punctuation).

“Same as” rules

If two company names are so similar they are likely to confuse the public as to which company is which, they are affected by the “same as” legislation.

So there are dozens of words and characters that Companies House will either treat as being the same as each other or ignore when comparing the two names.

These include:


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“and” and “&”,
“plus” and “+”,
“1” and “one”,
“€” and “euro”,
“@” and “at”.

So two names that differ only because one includes a symbol and the other includes the equivalent word in full will be treated as identical by Companies House.

Similarly, if the only difference between two names is that one includes the word ‘services’ or the characters ‘.co.uk’ in the name whilst the other does not, those names will also be treated as identical. This is because the registrar will ignore such words and characters when considering whether two names are the same as each other.

Note this example from Companies House – ‘Catering Limited’ is the “same as”:

  • Catering UK Limited (or Ltd);
  • Catering.co.uk Limited (or Ltd);
  • Catering International Limited (or Ltd);
  • Catering Company (Services) Limited (or Ltd).

You’ve decided on your company name, but what next?

A reputable company formation provider should allow you to check your company name online for free before your order. If they don’t, don’t bother!

If they do, check a few to compare the results, particularly if your name requirement is not straightforward.

You should also be able to speak to someone knowledgeable at the formation provider in the event you have a more complex name requirement.

At Jordans, we pride ourselves on our knowledge and expertise as a company formation provider and, unlike many competitors, we not only offer an easy-to-use web-based service, you can telephone or email our UK-based company formation agents if you require any kind of guidance.

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