Trading through your own limited company means that it is a legal requirement to register a company name, it also helps give your business an identity which people will recognise.
Even if you don’t then immediately start operating as a business, as soon as you do start trading and building up a client base and a good reputation, all of a sudden that name, or ‘brand’ becomes worth something and it’s even more important that it’s protected – and also that it is as unique as possible.
Whether you’re unsure what to name your business or you’re looking for help registering your new company, we’re here to help.
How to choose a limited company name
This sounds like it should be easy. In fact, if you’ve been thinking and dreaming about setting up your own business for years, you may already have a name in mind that you’ve always wanted to use. But in reality, there are many factors to consider before making a final decision.
The first of these, of course, is whether the name is available – as no two businesses can have the same legal name. You should also ensure that it is not similar to a word or phrase which has already been registered as a trademark, so there’s no point in choosing Moca Cola or IBBM Computing. You will need to search for existing company names that are the same or similar, and you can do this using the National Business Register.
Should I choose an abstract or descriptive company name?
This is a really important decision that you have to make. Large organisations have spent millions of pounds when choosing or changing names, and the ‘brand development’ agencies which carry out these projects can spend weeks, if not months, deliberating on the right approach for an individual business. Your job should be far simpler, but this is still a vital one to decide upon.
A ‘descriptive’ name makes it immediately obvious what your company does. For example, ‘IT Contractors Limited’ or ‘Smith’s Software Developer Consultant Limited’. But these names can be cumbersome and hard to remember, as well as being far more likely to be already registered – or at least similar to another company that is already registered. The alternative, therefore, and something which has become far more popular in recent years, is to go for an abstract name which means nothing – and then to develop a ‘brand’ around it, so that people eventually associate your company, and what it does, with that name.
An easy way to distinguish your company is to add a strap-line to your logo which tells everyone what you do. This gives you the opportunity to choose a nice abstract name which is also memorable and outlines what you do underneath.
The name you choose could be a totally made up word, or it could be an existing word but one which is not related to your business. For example, back in the late 90s, Scottish Telecom rebranded as ‘Thus’ – a name which is now pretty well known and associated with that business. Either option is fine, as long as you can find a name that you like and that, ideally, you can just add .com and .co.uk to, to form your catchy and memorable domain name.
All you need to start a limited company
Discover all the intricacies of contracting through a limited company with our free downloadable guide.
What’s in the guide?
- Understanding legislation – what is IR35 and what could it mean for your business?
- Maximising your expenses – find out what business costs you can expense through your company.
- Making your business a success – a look at how to manage your time, market yourself and make your business a success.
Is your company name web friendly?
As outlined above, any name you choose must be able to be used as a domain name. Having a website domain name that is different from your company name just causes confusion, and unless you are a huge brand, is best avoided. This is made slightly easier by the fact that you can have hyphens in your domain name, but remember that you will be saying either the web address or your email address, over the phone many times – so you need to make sure it’s easily understood. A name with lots of hyphens between words can be quite hard to say.
When thinking about your company name from a web perspective, it’s also worth thinking about how SEO friendly the name is (Search Engine Optimisation – simply means how easy is it for people to find your site on search engines). If you do opt for a descriptive name, then you might find that people use that search phrase more generically when looking for the type of services that you provide and that you might gain an advantage as they are in fact searching for your company name. Having said that, this should not be a deciding factor when choosing a name, as many other companies will probably use the same phrase as one of their ‘keywords’.
How will your limited company name appear to others?
At some point in the future, you might want to consider applying for external investment into your business, and at this point, you’ll need to come across as being very professional and businesslike. So think carefully now before choosing an outrageous, contentious or even slightly risqué name. Investors might not take you seriously and might be less than thrilled about handing over a cheque with such a bizarre name on it.
If you are set on this approach then register a more ‘safe’ legal name and then operate using something different. Many businesses go down the ‘trading as’ route, or simply use a more memorable variation of their names as an outward-facing brand.
Free Company Formation Offer
Here at SJD we’re offering your company formation free when you appoint us as your accountant. Take advantage of this offer by filling in the form below.
How to register your limited company name
Once you have chosen your company name and have determined that it is available, you can then register the name and set up your limited company. There are many organisations that can help you to form a limited company.
Our company formation includes:
- Organising a company bank account.
- Registering the company for VAT & PAYE.
- Advising on the optimum share structure of the company.
- A complete company formation service with all legal requirements, so that you can start trading as a limited company.
If your chosen company name is available, we should be able to send out your certificate of incorporation within three hours of registration.
Contact SJD Accountancy
We've been providing expert accountancy advice and helping contractors to focus on doing what they do best since 1992. To find out more about how we can help you set up your limited company, get in touch.
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