How to choose and register your business name in the UK

So you’ve got a great business idea and you’re ready to make it happen. One of the first steps is choosing and registering a name for your new start-up business in the UK.

This may seem simple, but your business name is super important! It can influence how customers perceive your brand and it needs to meet legal requirements too. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the process step-by-step.

Brainstorm potential names

When choosing a business name, you want it to be memorable, descriptive, and catchy. Start by brainstorming a list of potential names. Think about words or phrases that describe what your business does. Or come up with something unique and creative that will stand out. About 400,000 new businesses are started each year in the UK, so aim for a name that won’t easily be confused with others.

You can gather inspiration from:

  • Your products or services
  • Benefits you provide customers
  • Your location
  • Industries or niches you serve
  • Words that evoke desired branding
  • Founders’ names

Aim for names with 2-3 words that are simple and easy to remember.

Short dot com domain names are best too. Write down all your ideas – don’t filter yourself this early in the process!

Check name availability

Once you have a list of potential business names, it’s time to start vetting them. The first step is to check if the exact match .com domain name is available for purchase. Visit sites like GoDaddy or Namecheap, enter your top choices and see what’s available.

Securing a matching domain name early on is ideal for establishing cohesive branding across your website, emails, social handles and more. About 82% of small businesses in the UK have an online presence, so claim your domain now before someone else does!

Do a name search

After securing your domain name, you’ll need to check that your chosen business name is not already trademarked. Perform a business name search on the UK Intellectual Property Office website. This allows you to see if your name is already registered as a trademark by another company.

It’s also wise to search the Companies House name index. Here you can look for existing or dissolved companies that are operating under the same name. This helps you avoid potential disputes down the road.

Consider keywords

Factor relevant keywords into your business name when possible. Including industry terms or geographic location can help customers find you more easily through search engines. But don’t force keywords that feel unnatural.

For example, “Ann’s Birmingham Dog Grooming” incorporates location and services. This works as long as it aligns with your brand identity.

Check for risks

Be sure to evaluate any risks or downsides of your potential business names. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Too long or confusing
  • Hard to pronounce or spell
  • Uses made-up words or obscure abbreviations
  • Negative connotations or meanings in other languages
  • Potential trademark conflicts
  • Limits growth if too restrictive

If you notice any issues, go back to the drawing board. You want a name that’s catchy and descriptive without major drawbacks. Don’t settle on a so-so name just because the domain is available.

Confirm your name

Once you’ve selected the perfect business name after thorough vetting, it’s time to register it to make it legal.

If you plan to operate as a sole trader or partnership in the UK, you can start trading under your business name right away. Still, register the name with Companies House so no one else can use it. This only costs £40 and protects your business identity.

For limited companies, you must include your proposed company name in official paperwork when incorporating with Companies House. They’ll check availability as part of the registration process.

When ready to start a business, take time to choose and verify your business name carefully. This invests in your brand identity from the get-go. With a name secured, you can then write a business plan and any other materials using a cohesive and professional brand image.