Tag Archives: Company Name

Choosing Business Names – Does Length Matter?

Standard advice when choosing a domain name for your business is to not go for anything over 15 characters. The reasoning being that the name needs to be catchy and memorable. The standard view in psychology is that the limits of human short term memory are about 3-5 chunks of information. So if you are creating a business name 5 words should be about your maximum.

There are many successful businesses with one word names like Google, Apple, Virgin, Nike or Orange. However these names are not very descriptive of what the company does. In their early start-up phase they will therefore have had to spend a lot of time and effort explaining what they do through marketing themselves and their product. For your average small business, including a brief description of what you do in your company name can save you a lot of time. Including words like plumber, baker or IT in your company name instantly tell potential customers that they have found the right people.

So, 15 characters for a domain name, 5 words for a business name. These seem like pretty easy limits to stick to. To test out how many companies do stick to these limits we looked at 50,000 UK companies that have been registered at Companies House this year.

The first thing that we looked at was the number of characters in their company name. The shortest company name we found was “CS3” who are based in Ely in Cambridgeshire. The longest we found was “LOCUS INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND INCUBATION SERVICES LIMITED” who come in at a whopping 82 characters (not including spaces). Fortunately they have shortened this down for their domain name and come comfortably inside the 15 character limit with licedis.com. Based on the sample we looked at the average (median) length of UK company names is 21 characters while the most common (mode) length is 18 character. When you consider that virtually all of these company names include “Ltd” or “Limited”, 15 characters seems feasible to name a company.

Next we looked at the number of words in UK company names using the same sample of 50,000 companies. Most company names in this sample come in within the 3-5 word limit. From our sample the median average was 4 words while the most common (mode) was 3 words. Of course at the outer edges of this range you do get some extremes but over 47,500 of the 50,000 companies we looked at had company names of 5 words or less.

The two longest company names in our sample were 14 words long with “MR NEVILLE JOHNSON & MRS SOPHIE JOHNSON (THE FOX WALMLEY) SUTTON COLDFIELD UK LIMITED” being the longer in terms of characters. A little bit of research suggests that their business is a pub called “The Fox”. This being much shorter and easier to remember it is likely “The Fox” is likely to get considerably more usage than their full company name.

So like Mr & Mrs Johnson or LICEDIS if you are going to have a long company name make sure you have thought about how it can be shortened down to something that is quick and easy to remember.

If you want to check whether your new company name is available you can use our company name search function (and don’t forget to check for the domain name as well).

What does your Company Name Mean?

Meaning of Company Names If people are searching for a plumber and they find a company called “Smith & Sons Plumbers” they know what they are getting. However there are a number of successful companies who have deliberately gone the other way and chosen company names with little or no meaning.

Rob Kalin the head of online marketplace Etsy said the following when asked about how he came up with his company’s name:

I wanted a nonsense word because I wanted to build the brand from scratch. I was watching Fellini’s 8½ and writing down what I was hearing. In Italian, you say etsi a lot. It means “oh, yes.” And in Latin, it means “and if.”

Other technology companies have gone for names which have meaning but don’t necessarily describe what they do. Google was originally called Backrub. Google is actually a play on googol which is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. According to the official Google history this was chosen to symbolize the infinite amounts of information on the internet which they were trying to organize. According to less official versions they ended up using Google instead of Googol because of a spelling mistake when doing the domain name search.

Having an unusual company name can be a good way to make it memorable and stimulate discussion. The American online menswear retailer Bonobos is named after a kind of endangered chimpanzee. Andy Dunn the company’s co-founder says that having an unusual name gives anyone an “excuse to talk about who you are beyond your product.” For a new company trying to get people’s attention having a company name which doubles as a conversation starter can be a useful way to get your foot in the door.

This is both the main benefit and the main drawback of an unusual name. Customers, and search engines, will not initially know what your company does. However having customers ask about your company name gives you the opportunity to tell them the story of your company, what products or services you offer, and why they ought to buy them. This does require that you have a sensible answer to the origins of your nonsense name and can wrap it around a compelling sales pitch. Whether this will work for your company will in part depend on the industry you are in. Naming your company after an endangered type of chimpanzee is fine for a clothing company but might not work as well for a solicitor, funeral director or tax advisor.

Whether you go for a traditional company name, or an unusual conversation starting one it is important that you do the proper checks on it. Make sure that it does not contain any ‘sensitive’ words, that you are not infringing on anyone’s trademarks and that no other companies are already using it.

Online Company Name Generators – A source of good company names or a waste of time?

Company Name GeneratorsWe have talked before about the minefield of choosing company names. As well as the marketing implications there are a whole range of legal restrictions to consider. Sometimes people are just stuck for an idea or find that the company name they had set their heart on has been taken.

If you are really struggling to come up with a company name idea there are now a range of online company name generators to have a play around with.

Company Name GeneratorVerdict 2/10

This site has a couple of options. On the home page you can simply hit the generate button and it will give you a random name most of which are pretty meaningless. Clicking on the “Advanced” button gets some more options where you can choose from lists of prefixes and suffixes to make up two word company names. Most of the names it suggests are pretty meaningless but it could give you some idea.

Biz Name WizVerdict 3/10

Biz Name Wiz looks quite promising to start with. It allows you to put in a range of words related to your business then generates a name. I tried putting in “tours, essex, countryside, cycle” for my new imaginary company doing cycle tours of the Essex countryside. The top 2 suggestions I got back were “toursessexcountrysidecycle” and “countrysidecycleessextours”. Neither of which are very inspiring or clever.

WordlabVerdict 4/10

A bit like Company Name Generator wordlab generates random names at the push of a button. However unlike Company Name Generator some of these names actually have meaning. Wordlab has a variety of categories of names to choose from making it more likely you will find something useable.

Name StationVerdict 6/10

Name station requires a login and doesn’t have the easiest navigation in the world but after a bit of digging around there are some decent tools. It is mainly focussed on domain names but has tools which allow you to see related words and alliterations. Where Name Station does particularly well is that it has some human intervention. You can (for a price) conduct public contests to name your business and see some of the unused names from previous businesses that are relevant to your keywords.

Overall Verdict

Most of these tools are based around domain names rather than traditional business names. A lot of the name generators that I haven’t mentioned essentially work in the same way as the ones above, either generating completely random names or simply joining your keywords together. The better ones, like Name Station, do this as well but then offer another level of choices on top. Ultimately none of these names generators are likely to give you the perfect company name but they could well give you some ideas to start with.

Unfortunate Domain Names



I previously wrote an article on Amusing and Rude Company Names it has recently come to my attention that amusing names is not limited purely to company names.A number of newly formed limited companies and individuals have picked some rather unfortunate domain names for their website. The list clearly illustrates why it is important to think ahead when choosing a company name.

Andy Geldman has devoted an entire website and now a book to what he calls Slurls“…outrageous URL’s innocently chosen by real businesses.”

Some of them are possibly too rude to mention on our blog (discretion is advised when following the link), but I have found a few examples which demonstrate clearly the importance of carefully choosing the web address for your business:






Well, you get the idea. It’s important to put some careful thought into the URL of your business name and the web domain that goes with it, even if you have to use hyphens to space the words out for clarity. Imagine having some of the above address on your business cards!

Once you’ve thought of a good name, use our free Domain Name tool to see if it is available and register it for your own use with some of the lowest prices available in the UK!

“Trading As” – Company and Business Names

It is quite a common occurrence in the UK for Limited Companies to adopt a “trading” name to run their business with. Having already carried out a company formation and registered a company with one name they find that they would rather run the business under another name. In some instances, a limited company may well run multiple businesses, with various different “trading” names, yet all under the umbrella of the same company. There are, or can be, a number of issues to consider when contemplating such a thing.

First of all, The Business Names Act 1985 imposes certain legal requirements on companies adopting this business technique. The most obvious point is the trading name cannot be the same as or similar to another company or business name in a way that might be confusing. In the same way that you cannot register a company name with the same name as a company that is already registered, you cannot register one company name (which is completely different) then use a trading name which is the same as a already registered (and trading) company name.

Secondly, the use of sensitive words is prohibited/regulated in use as part of a trading name in much the same way as it is for limited company names. So using words like “association”, “group”, “federation” and similar words is prohibited. Clearly, a company cannot use the word “limited” as part of its trading name as this implies registration of a limited company under that name.

Thirdly, if using a trading name as part of carrying out business, a company is required to display the appropriate information in all places where the business is carried out and on all documentation, invoices and alike. So for example, if ABC Limited is trading as XYZ, then they must make as much clear on a notice at their premises, on paperwork and website displaying – “ABC Limited trading as XYZ“.

The Pitfalls of “Trading As”.

The use of a trading name might seem appealing to most businesses as it is easier than registering a company under the new name. However, there are several pitfalls. The whole area of “trading as” is rather a mine field.

It’s clearly important to carry out a company name search to ensure that the trading as name is not already registered as a limited company. Sensible business people would also carry out other searches in local business directories, on the internet and in the phone book to make sure they are not going to step on anyone’s toes. Because a trading name is not registered as a limited company, it is not properly protected. There is always the danger that at a later date someone else may register the trading name as a limited company and then stake their claim. This could clearly cause complications for your business as they will have the right to the name and therefore can force you to stop using it. So it is advisable to carry out a company formation and register the trading name as a limited company, then keep that company dormant. This might seem to defeat the point in using a trading name, but because a dormant (non-trading) company is just that, the registration is low cost and maintenance is straightforward.

The other obvious danger is that someone else has the trading name registered as a trade mark. This could lead to costly legal battles and a headache for the company. It is advisable to carry out a trade mark search and a trade mark registration with regards to the business trading name, both in order to protect it from use from others and to ensure it has not already been registered.

This article is not meant to be comprehensive legal advice, the law is subject to change and is complex in nature with regard to trading names. Please consult a legal professional for full advice.