The aim for any business is to be still trading in years to come. Many things will change over a company’s lifetime, such as staff, products and logos. However, one constant in almost every company is the name. Naming your company is one of the most creative and important decisions that you will make.
The title of a business is part of a customer’s first impression of the company. Names are a necessary part of a company’s branding and are used to identify a product or service amongst its competitors. You need a name to be proud of as it will be plastered over your website, social media and adverts.
Brands such as Google and Nike have managed to build their brand to the extent that people all over the world immediately think of corresponding visuals and services when they hear the names. Your goal is to establish your company’s place in the market.
New businesses rely upon a customer’s preconceptions. You’re more likely to attract customers if your company name is well thought out and suits your services.
What are the top 10 most common names for business starters?
The name of a company shouldn’t be too long or complicated. You want to think of something memorable and easy to say or write. Part of your clientele will come from word of mouth recommendations. You don’t want to miss out on this free advertising if your customers can’t remember or pronounce your company’s name!
Business names fall into different categories. For example, a company name such as Sports Direct is a ‘descriptive’ title. On the other hand, Apple sells products that are unrelated to the fruit, so it is an ’empty vessel’ name.
Your company cannot have the same name or similar as another registered business. Before registering your company with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), you can put your company name into a name checker to make sure that the name is available for use. HMRC also requires that you include ‘limited’ or Ltd’ at the end of the name.
We’re here to help you come up with a great name for your new business. Continue reading for a breakdown of what makes a good name and things to avoid.
1.Descriptive business names
Descriptive names aren’t the most creative, but they get the job done. They’re simple and straight to the point, without the need for any glitz or glamour. Descriptive names help to explain what niche businesses do.
Unfortunately, descriptive names can be difficult to trademark as your services aren’t likely to be unique. This means that other businesses may use a very similar name. For example, if you own a sweet shop and you want to call your business ‘The Olde Sweet Shop’, you’re going to have trouble trademarking it.
Examples of descriptive business names include Pizza Hut, Hotels.com and We Buy Any Car.
2.Lexical business names
Lexical means to use vocabulary or language that is known by an individual, and in this instance, it refers to company names that rely on wordplay. The names are clever and catchy due to their memorable use of puns, alliteration or intentional misspelling. Going down this route to name your company encourages lots of creativity.
Due to its relative freedoms and choices, lexical names have been very popular over the years. The saturation in the market may dampen the effectiveness of your name. Don’t be put off, though. The right lexical name will make trademarking easier and can stand out if it’s creative enough.
Examples of lexical business names include Krispy Kreme, Off the Hook and Jelly Belly.
3.Acronym business names
Acronym names can be used to shorten a much longer name. This is a very common technique amongst older companies that wanted to shorten their name for modern audiences.
In the instance of Swedish clothing company H&M, the name was formed after the original company Hennes bought hunting and fishing retailer Mauritz Widforss. The two companies merged and created a new name of Hennes and Mauritz, or H&M. This technique is useful if your company is also merging with another company.
Examples of business names that contain acronyms include IKEA, which is a shortened version of the founder’s name Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd.
4.Geographical Business names
Naming your company after a location is a meaningful way to honour your company’s roots. You may choose to include a particular country, region or city.
Geographical names can help market your business if the location is already renowned for similar services and products. For example, Oxford is world-renowned for its university, and a company that contains the city’s name will have similar intellectual connotations. An example would be Oxford Instruments. This manufacturing and research company automatically seems more trustworthy because customers associate Oxford with knowledgeable people.
Company names that contain places can be difficult to trademark because other local companies will likely have similar names.
Examples of geographical business names include American Express, Royal London and Whittards of Chelsea.
5.Founder business names
Starting a business is something to be proud of. In a tradition that stretches back centuries, you can imprint your ownership on the company by naming it after yourself. Many companies in the cosmetics and fashion industry name their brand after the designer’s name.
Your name will be easy to trademark unless someone else with your name got in first! You can also base the company’s brand around you. This can help to make the company relatable if customers feel that they know and trust you personally.
A drawback of naming your company after yourself is that it won’t explain what the business does. It can also cause your company to fade into the background, especially in industries such as law firms, where this technique is especially popular.
Examples of founder business names include Kellogg’s, McDonald’s and Bentley.
6.Suggestive business names
Suggestive business names are a mixture of descriptive and inventive. They often use word association to play on established imagery and concepts.
Choosing a suggestive name can instantly help you come up with marketing strategies for your brand. For example, Twitter was so named because the word means “a short burst of inconsequential information” and “chirps from birds”. This led the platform to create a theme based around birds.
7.Compound business names
Compound business names use the technique of portmanteau – the combination of two words or sounds to create a new word. This is a creative way to explain what a business does whilst also increasing the chance of being unique.
Compound names can be used to shorten names that are too long or plain. For example, Weetabix is a shortened version of wheat biscuits. Instagram is a combination of ‘instant camera’ and ‘telegram’.
You are able to tell your customers what your business does whilst also increasing your chance of trademark.
8.Empty vessel business names
This naming technique is a good chance to exercise your imagination. Empty vessel names are abstract and don’t have a clear meaning. They can be made up, which gives you complete flexibility over branding and trademarks.
Empty vessel names can also be real words that have no obvious connection to your company. For example, Apple certainly doesn’t sell fruit. The company has built an entire brand around the name, despite apples having no connection to technology. The iconic apple symbol is identifiable on each of the products that they sell and has changed the entire generation’s views on the word.
Examples of empty vessel names include Kodak and Google. In fact, the company name ‘Google’ has become so popular that it has inspired a verb to describe searching something up online.
9.Alphanumeric business names
This technique uses a combination of both words and numbers. Adding numbers in the place of words can shorten an otherwise long name.
Although more common to use when naming model types, alphanumeric names can give a company a modern look. The names are usually short and easy to remember. Mixing up letters and numbers offers you an infinite number of variations to play around with. Adding numbers in the place of words can also make trademarking your company much easier.
Examples of alphanumeric brand names include Five Guys, 7 Up and WD-40.
Imagery is a powerful tool when marketing your company. Naming your company after something like a fictional figure or animal can reinforce your company’s values or marketing strategies.
For example, Nike is the name of the Greek goddess of victory. This is a good concept for a sports brand to market because customers will feel that they are more likely to win a competition or match. Another example is Gorilla Glue. Gorillas are known for being strong and tough, which underpins the idea that the glue is going to work well on a customer’s project.
Starting a new company is an exciting time, and we hope you’ve got lots of ideas to come up with your own business name.