The naming of your company may appear to be of incredible importance; after all, it is the name that will define your business for years to come. However, whilst it may be the name that needs to appear on your official company documents – it does not have to be the name people come to know you by.
Just as Whitbread PLC operates several brands such as Premier Inn, Costa, and Brewers Fayre, you can always choose to trade under the name of a brand. We do that here – although you may know us as SetUpaCompany, our company name is actually Company Manager Ltd. ‘SetUpaCompany’ is just a brand.
By operating in this way it allows us to always have the potential to expand our business in to other areas beyond company formations should we choose to. In other words, your company name is not as important as it may first seem and so whilst you need to pick one you are happy with, do not spend too long thinking about it. It’s far better to pick a name quickly and get started running your business, than it is to spend your time debating slight variations on names.
If you’re looking for some guidance on the kind of name to pick, try and find something that is memorable or describes the kind of business you do in some way. However, avoid being too specific as you may wish to diversify or move in to different markets in the future.
It would also be advisable in most cases to avoid using geographical locations in names since, as your business expands, you may want to be recognised beyond the area you currently operate in.
In terms of the legal restrictions on your company name, the main ones are that it cannot be the same, or too similar, to and existing company name registered with Companies House, and, it must not contain any sensitive or offensive words.
Let’s take the first of those, registering a name too similar to an existing company name. This is something which helps to prevent companies being mistaken for each other or even one from passing off as another. It means that even if the company name Tescos Limited is not registered, because Tesco Limited is registered – you would not be able to register the plural version without approval from the original company.
This means you’ll need to do a search for your desired company name before you go ahead with trying to register it to ensure there will be no problems. Both the Companies House website and the websites of most company formation agents allow you to do this search for free.
That brings us on to the use of sensitive or offensive words. These are words that are defined by Companies House as either not allowed in any circumstances, or needing further approval before they can be used. Offensive words are mostly swear words that may not be acceptable to some members of the public. Words deemed to be potentially offensive are not allowed at all.
Sensitive words are words that usually have some kind of meaning attached to them. For instance a company with the word ‘Royal’ in the name may suggest an association to the royal family. In these cases it is permissible to use such words if your company has a genuine reason for doing so. Usually you will need a letter from a relevant body or organisation to show you have the right or the permission to use such a word.
The list of sensitive words is forever changing and so you would always be advised to check the latest guidance on the Companies House website before submitting an application using a name that may require approval.
However, even if you submit an application to use a name that does use a sensitive or offensive word, your application will simply be rejected and you will be able to resubmit your application for free, either providing the necessary proof of rights or permission to use the word, or choosing a new company name that does not include the problem word. For this reason, if in doubt, it’s always better to submit your application and see what happens, rather than delay your application whilst you do more research.