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Naming your business is like laying the foundations of a building, says Katrina Burchell- Burchell Consulting BRANDS, DESIGNS, COPYRIGHT. If the name is strong and aligned with your company’s products or core values your business will grow strong and stand tall.

Carelessly naming your company or your product or service can mean lost business or missed opportunities.  Whether you are starting out or already have an established brand it is never too late to think about and review what your name says about you.

Companies have various ways of choosing a name and the route will depend on the type of business, the personality of the person or persons deciding and the competitive landscape you might find yourself in.

Relying on your personal name, location, geography – these types of names are often chosen by professions or service providers where perhaps the reputation of the individual is key or where it is important that the consumer knows where you are based.  Of course these might grow to be well known (SAINSBURY stores or BUXTON water) but will most often be used local suppliers of services such as accountants, personal trainers, plumbers, mechanics etc.

It Does What it Says on the Tin  – these names describe the product or services being provided leaving little to the imagination and little room for distinguishing one business from another – SIMPLIFIED ACCOUNTING; PREMIER CLEANING SERVICE for example.  This group of names includes attempts to make these more unique by substituting alternative spellings or abbreviations and whilst some can become distinctive through many years of use eg KWIK FIT or IBM (INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES) this is the weakest category of name both from a consumer and legal perspective.

The Invented or Wacky word – these types of names can provide real value in marketing messages and legal protection but the downside is they require a lot of investment in communication with the consumer to explain what the business is.  APPLE , YAHOO! and MOONPIG appear to be random words picked out of the air while KODAK and XEROX are often quoted as great invented trade marks and company names.

The Suggestive name or Clever Play on the product, service or value – these are my favourite names – ones which show creativity and often a fun side to a brand.  Suggestive enough to make sure your consumer “gets” what you do and distinctive enough to differentiate you from your competitor and give you some legal protection.  THE CODFATHER for fish and chip shops (always makes me smile); SPRUCE cleaning services suggests being spruced up and the fresh smell of pine are on the more descriptive side of suggestive whilst RED BULL is more suggestive of a positive charge of energy and COPPERTONE suggests the outcome of the suntan oil.  This group might also include the portmanteau word where parts of words are stuck together to make a new word such as MICROSOFT.

Whichever name you end up choosing and using in your business here are my top tips for making the right decision:


  1. DISTINCTIVENESS – stand out from the crowd but find a balance between explaining exactly what you do and something so remote that your customers have no clue.
  2. BREVITY – short names are more easily remembered and it helps if it is EASY TO SPELL and PRONOUNCE
  3. APPROPRIATE AND LIKEABLE – does the name say something about what your business does or your business values/personality? Is it going to attract your customers?
  4. EXTENDABILITY – does the name suggest an attractive logo and slogan? Can you use it in marketing in various ways?  Will it limit your extension into new areas of business or new locations?
  5. AVAILABILITY AND PROTECTABILITY – is it available for you to use – as a company name and a brand name? Can you register the domain name, social media names or can you find suitable options to give your business an online presence?  Do you understand what type of fence you can build around your name to protect it?


Katrina is founder and Director of Burchell Consulting – strategic Intellectual Property advice for start-ups, small and medium sized businesses www.burchellconsulting.co.uk

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