How to Conduct a Successful Business Name Search

Mastering Business Name Searches: Your Guide to a Choosing the Perfect Brand Name

Choosing a business name in the UK can be as exciting as it is challenging. With a plethora of businesses across so many diverse sectors, finding a unique and compelling brand name requires a strategic approach.

A successful business name search avoids common pitfalls that could potentially derail your branding efforts or even lead to legal complications. Here’s a guide on conducting an effective business name search, tailored for the UK market.

Understanding the Importance of a Unique Name

Your business name is more than a mere identifier; it’s a reflection of your brand’s identity and values.

The UK has a competitive business landscape, so a unique name helps you stand out, makes your brand memorable, and reduces the likelihood of being mistaken for a competitor.

Start with Brainstorming

Begin by brainstorming a list of potential names that resonate with your business ethos, values services, or products.

Consider names that are catchy, easy to remember, and give a hint of what your business is about. Don’t restrict yourself at this stage; the more options you have, the better.

Check for Uniqueness

Once you have a list, the next crucial step is to ensure these names are not already in use. Start.Biz has a free search tool which allows you to check their internal list of Businesses that have protected their business name, Companies House and domains simultaneously.

This step is vital to avoid legal issues associated with trademark infringement or passing off. It should be remembered that sole traders do not need to register at Companies House and brands often register a trademark which is different from the Companies House registered name so a quick Companies House check is not going to cut it.

Domain and Social Media Availability

In today’s digital age, having an online presence is essential. Check the availability of your proposed names as domain names. There are lots of individual sites that allow you to do this or Start.Biz’ search tool does this for you whilst checking Companies House and other protected business names.

Additionally, search on social media platforms to ensure your desired name is available for consistency across channels.

Avoiding Infringement of Trademarks

A common pitfall in selecting a business name is inadvertently infringing on existing trademarks. Conduct a thorough search on the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) database to ensure your proposed name doesn’t infringe on any registered trademarks.

Remember, even if a name is available at Companies House, it could still be trademarked.  Eg. Crème egg is a trade mark, Cadbury UK Limited are the owners of that trade mark.  At the time of writing this blog Crème egg has not been taken as a registered company name at Companies House, there are also domains still available with crème egg, however, it is not likely to be a good idea to start a business with that name.

Be Descriptive but Not Too Generic

While descriptive names can be beneficial for explaining what your business does, overly generic names can be forgettable and hard to protect legally.

Strike a balance between descriptiveness and uniqueness.  If you name your business using descriptive words for the products or services offered, it is not likely to be able to be protected by a trade mark which would give you exclusive rights to use that mark in the sector it is registered in. 

Business Name Protection by Start.Biz offers a level of protection for business names, by protecting the business from passing off or name copying.  This means that your business would be protected in your sector and region, the aim being to prevent customers being confused between one business and another.

Consider Future Expansion

Avoid choosing a name that is too narrow or limiting. Consider the potential future growth and expansion of your business.  Claire’s cakes v Claire’s bakes is an example of this.

For example, using a geographical location in your name might not be ideal if you plan to expand beyond that area. Coventry Cattery would be great if you are not planning on expanding, if you intend to open up a Cattery in Leicester too, a more neutral name that could be used in both locations may be more appropriate.

Cultural Sensitivity and Global Relevance

Ensure your chosen name does not have negative connotations in other languages or cultures, especially if you plan to operate internationally.

A name that is culturally sensitive and globally relevant is more likely to appeal to a wider audience.

Avoiding Trends and Fads

Trends come and go, and a name that sounds contemporary today may seem outdated in a few years. Opt for a timeless name that can stand the test of time.

Seek Feedback

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, seek feedback from potential customers, mentors, or business advisors.

They can provide valuable insights and help you see perspectives you might have missed.  Try to choose a name that is easy to say and spell, this improves the likelihood of your business name being remembered and details passed on.

Legal Considerations and Registration

After settling on a name, the final step is to legally register your business. In the UK, if you wish to trade as a company this involves registering with Companies House.  If you wish to trade as a sole trader you need to make HMRC aware.

Ensure you follow all the guidelines and provide the necessary documentation. Consider seeking legal advice to navigate this process smoothly.


Finding the perfect business name in the UK is a blend of creativity, thorough research, and strategic planning. Avoid common pitfalls by ensuring your chosen name is unique, legally compliant, and aligns with your brand’s vision and goals.

Remember, your business name is the first step in building your brand’s identity and can significantly impact your business’s perception and success. Take your time, be thorough, and choose a name that will resonate with your audience and stand the test of time in the vibrant UK market.

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