Choosing the right business name is essential. Just ask the business owner who called their spare car parts business ‘Wally’s Private Parts’.  Your business name is the quickest way to communicate the essence of your business as well as your knowledge, capabilities and distinctiveness, so it’s worth getting right from the offset. There are many elements to consider however, so in this article we look at how to pick the right name for your business.

There are lots of starting points when it comes to picking a name. If you don’t want to spend too much time on picking the name you can use a simple business name generator. You may like to choose a name that instantly conveys what your business does. You may like to use a unique or ‘made up’ word, which allows you to form unique connotations for your customers to connect with the word.  Or you may like to use a word not usually connected with your industry, which is a metaphor for an aspect of your business.

Choosing a name that conveys what your business does

Choosing a business name that conveys what your business does makes it easy for your customers to get a good sense of what your business does instantly. For example, if you’re looking for a dog walking business, a business called ‘Dog Walkers R Us’ instantly hits home. This method of naming a business is also popular as people have a preference towards words they comprehend and recognize.

However, there are a number of issues with this that must be considered. One of the biggest issues is that naming your business in this way may limit your business when it comes to future expansion. For example, what if your dog walking business struggles to pick up enough dogs walking jobs and diversifies into pet sitting, including cats, hamsters and even pet snakes. Being tied to the name ‘Dog Walkers R Us’ no longer conveys what the business does and may actually prevent the business attracting the new business. Another common mistake with this is limiting the business geographically. For example ‘London Dog Walkers’ may seem like a great name to portray what the company does when they are London based, but will limit the company when they look to expand beyond London to the rest of the UK.

Choosing a unique or ‘made up’ word

A great way to make your business stand out is to use a totally unique name by creating a new word. This has the potential to create a strong brand which is entirely unique and helps you to protect your online reputation. Look at the word Hoover for example, which was originally a company name but is now part of everyday language for describing vacuum cleaners. However, it can be difficult to reach this level of recognition and the name doesn’t have the advantage of instantly portraying what your business does, at least not in the early days. A way around this may involve combining existing words, for example in the way a combined spoon and fork has become a ‘spork’. The pitfall with this method however, is that made up words may be easy for customers forget making your job of marketing more difficult.

Choosing a metaphor

Using a metaphor, or a word not usually associated with your business or industry is a great way of conveying what your business does, without necessarily limiting your business. For example, we could call a transformational coaching business ‘Butterfly’ to be representative of the transformation of a butterfly from a caterpillar. The difficulty with these names is they often require some explanation. You must also be careful to ensure your business still sounds professional enough- some business leaders may feel ‘Butterfly’ isn’t the professional sounding outfit they need to take their business through a difficult period of transformation.

Once you think you have your name for your business, there are still a few steps to go through to make sure you’ve made the right choice:

Sense check

It may sound basic, but do a quick common sense check on the name you have chosen. Make sure when you say it out loud, it doesn’t for example sound rude of ridiculous.

Make sure it is easy to say and spell

Ever tried to tell a family member about a product you tried and loved, only to stumble over the pronunciation? Or tried to look up a product that your friend is raving about, only to struggle to type it into a search engine?

While it’s great having an unusual and memorable company name, make sure it isn’t so unusual that your customers are going to struggle to pronounce or spell it. Having a name that is easy to say and spell will prevent confusion and also make it easier for potential customers to track down your product or service. For example, Amazon was originally called ‘Cadabra’ in reference to ‘abracadabra’ but had to be renamed when customer struggled to spell it. A good place to begin is by not making the word too long.

Check it isn’t already taken

You may have had the best idea for your business name but that isn’t to say someone else hasn’t had it before you. Checking your business name isn’t already taken is something you should do sooner rather than later. Changing branding can be costly but having to change your website, stationary and merchandise because someone is taking you to court for using their name could bankrupt your business at worst and at best represent a real distraction.  Avoid this costly and timely mistake by using a website such as 1st formations (,to ensure the name isn’t already taken.

Someone else having the same business name doesn’t automatically mean it is a no go however. For example, let’s pretend you are setting up a chocolate company called ‘Rockies’. There may already be a company called ‘Rockies’ but they specialize in mining. The mining company has most likely registered this name for the purposes of a mining company only, so you are free to use a variation of this name for a chocolate company. This can be checked by checking which class their Intellectual Property falls into.

Once you are sure the name hasn’t been taken, it’s not enough to just register it as your company name, you must also register with the government as your Intellectual Property. Make sure to register it in the countries your business will trade in and for all the classes that your product or service falls under (or may fall under in future). Going back to our Rockies example, we may register it under ‘food- confectionary’, but also ‘food- cereal’, as we intend on launching a chocolate cereal in the near future.

Check your online presence

In an age led by technology, the majority of businesses depend on websites and social media, to varying extents. For example, they could utilize a website where customers buy the product or they use social media to market the product and create a community of loyal customers. It becomes very important to not only have a company name that is legally available and that you can create an online presence for. Going back to our example, the mining company may own but may still be free and you may deem this perfectly acceptable. If neither was free and you couldn’t think of an alternative that made sense, you may run into some issues and have to rethink your name. Equally, be careful not to give up to easily. There may be plenty of alternatives, for example ‘’ or ‘’.

The other consideration when it comes to your online presence is your ability to show up in online searches. There are a number of ways to increase your ability to show up on searches and part of this will be your company name. For example, imagine you are setting up an interior design company, sourced from Greek designers and you decide to call the company ‘Greece to UK’. Anyone trying to find your company via a search engine is going to struggle, with ‘UK’ and ‘Greece’ being very broad and generic search terms. In this instance, you can make your life a lot easier by rethinking your name and replacing it with something more unique that will show up more easily.


If you’re struggling to come up with a company name yourself it may be worth enlisting the help of an agency. The offerings (and pricings) vary- some may simply offer you help naming the company, whilst othersmay create your whole brand strategy around the name and help you with any legal requirements in registering the name of the business.  When it comes to hiring an agency, just be clear with them as to what you expect from the offset. If you’re choosing to use a unique made up word for your business there are also free websites which can form these words for you and which may help inspire you or at least get the creative juices going.

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