When setting up a business, perhaps one of the more enjoyable tasks is thinking up a company name which stands out from the crowd and gives your potential customers an idea of your skills and services, whilst being memorable. At this stage it is important to sit down with a pen and paper and brainstorm. It’s important to remember that this name can make a difference in securing lucrative contracts and not.

In an ideal world, all business would be given to the companies or contractors who have the best skillset and can deliver results in a timely and cost effective manner. But in reality, many contracts are given on first impressions, so if you have a company name which is tasteless or immediately off-putting, it doesn’t matter if you are the best in the world, that contract is going to somebody else.

As the Professional Contractors Group (PCG) mention, there is no right way to decide what your company name should be, but there are a number of wrong ways.

When thinking of ideas, it is often best to start with the basics such as your own name, your initials and what you actually do for a living. The problem here is that creativity is lacking and this name is unlikely to wow prospective clients. Certainly, calling your firm ‘Bob Smith – IT Services’ tells people who you are and what you do, but it’s not a name that will live long in the memory and could even go unnoticed in a competitive area of business.

Walter Wise a Business Start-Up Advisor writes “When you consider ideas, concentrate on what you do. I am a fan of short names as they make the email and website address easy to use and remember.”

There a number of online tools available, such as business name generators, which can really help get the ball rolling. You will be asked for a keyword relating to your business or services offered, which will produce a list of potential business names. Google’s keyword tool is another useful to find the volume of searches and trends for a particular keyword or phrase. Another consideration that you may also want to check and secure is the availability of the domain name as well as on social networks. A website can be especially helpful for Limited company contractors as it will go some way to helping to confirm your IR35 status and social media offers a free platform to promote your services online.

Chastity Cliborne writes “I made a list of words that described what I offered, not just the services, but the qualities that made my services stand out.”

One thing to avoid is current trends. While it may seem like a good idea to name your business after something currently popular, times change and this name could quickly become dated. Take the example of the firms which decided to include ‘Y2K’ into their names around 1999 and the turn of the Millennium, by 2001 they were beginning to look like companies stuck in the past.

Marly Lutters writes “If you plan to operate internationally, make sure to focus on cultural differences, interpretations and associations with the name as these can be very different across borders. Easy pronunciation is also key.”

If you’re bereft for inspiration, the PCG suggests using animal names . Like with many sports clubs, this will provide something fun and easy to remember. It also means that producing a logo for your signs, banners and business cards is simple. Of course you still need to pick an animal which encourages business. Many people are scared of spiders and reptiles, so naming your company after an arachnid or snake isn’t advisable, unless your business is a pet shop specialising in exotic creatures!

Before you settle on the name, why not test it with a few friends or colleagues and also consider how it will translate visually into a company logo – how will it look on a business card, website, proposal or invoice?.

One of the benefits of setting up a Limited Company in the UK  is incorporation. This ensures that your business name cannot be registered by anybody else. Companies House will accept for registration a name which is very similar, even though not identical, to an existing name, it is advisable to register alternative spellings of your business name as separate companies. Such companies may be kept on the register indefinitely as dormant companies, blocking registration by someone else.

If you are looking to operate internationally, then protecting your business name using the Madrid System will ensure protection of your trademark in more than 80 countries.

How did you pick your business name? I’d love to hear about your experiences and any further advice you could offer, by leaving a comment.