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.