There is an old Latin proverb that says “Omen est nomen”, which means the name is a sign, the name speaks for itself. Say what you will, but the old Romans knew a things or two about the importance of choosing the right name. More than two thousand years later, the sentiment is as true as ever. And yet, we have all seen those photos of banners or billboards that reveal unfortunate business names – whether they turned out like this intentionally or not – like the ones advertising the pottery shop “Harry The Potter” or lawn-mowing services “Lawn and Order”.
While it may prompt you into a chuckle when it’s someone else’s business, the laughter may quickly turn into a bitter aftertaste when it’s yours. Not only do you want your business to succeed and stay profitable for as long as possible, you also want it to not become a joke (or the subject of those funny chain fast-forward emails, viral images and online memes).
Here’s a short guide on how to not name your startup business ( you can also check our previous post with 10 tips for naming your business):
Choosing A Confusing, Obscene Or Inappropriate Name
Before settling on the name Amazon, Jeff Bezos wanted to name his company “Cadabra”, short for Abracadabra. No wonder he was talked out of it by his closest legal advisers, when one of them misheard the word as “Cadaver”!
Naturally, if you choose a name that is deemed obscene or inappropriate, you will not be able to get the company registered. In addition, the Government also suggests that “your name can’t contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression, or suggest a connection with government or local authorities, unless you get permission”. You can read more about those cases here.
Extra tip: if you are thinking about expanding to foreign, non-English speaking markets in the future, make sure the name isn’t offensive in these respective languages or bear negative/ inappropriate/ funny implications. So don’t make this mistake when you name your startup.
Choosing A Name That’s Difficult To Remember Or Pronounce
A name should be catchy and easy to remember and pronounce. There is nothing like an unnecessarily long name to cripple its functionality. Just think of how difficult it would be to advertise a company, let alone become a household name, if your company was called, say, “Braithwaite, Hathaway & Sons Enterprises Limited”. (However, your long name can work if you make an acronym out of it – just think of KFC, HP, or BMW, for instance.)
Simple things like this are important to consider when you name your startup.
Picking A Name That Already Exists/Is Already Trademarked
The Government clearly states that you should not use a name that has already been registered by another company. You can check if the name you’ve intended to use is free and available by checking the Companies House register. Not only that, but if your name is too similar to another company’s name, you may have to change it if someone makes a complaint.
Picking A Name With An Already Taken Internet Domain
Don’t even think of starting a business if you do not intend to run a website along with it. Use a domain registration portal to check potential domains with your desired company name included, and if the .com or .co.uk URL isn’t available, consider tweaking the name or going for an altogether different one.
Choosing the right name is only one piece of this particular puzzle. If you’re in the process of setting your very first startup, we have a bunch of essential tips tailored for aspiring entrepreneur.
Final Words: How To Not Name Your Startup
Hopefully you’re now clear on the best practices to name your startup the right way.
Naming your startup is extremely important so don’t brush over this area of your business!
Got any legal questions or advice you need about how to name your startup? Then book a free Startup Legal Session today and get all your questions answered by a legal expert.