How to Conduct Thorough Online and Offline Business Name Checks

Bridging the Gap from Idea to Reality: Online and Offline Business Naming Strategies

In the rapidly changing business landscape of the UK, selecting a unique and impactful brand name is crucial for establishing a strong identity. However, the process doesn’t end at brainstorming a catchy name; it’s equally important to ensure that your chosen name is not already in use or trademarked.

Conducting thorough online and offline checks is essential to avoid potential legal issues and establish a unique presence in the market. This article provides smart strategies for effectively conducting both online and offline business name checks.

Online Checks

1. Companies House WebCheck

The first step in your online check is often the Companies House WebCheck service. There is a free tool which allows you to search the register of companies and find out if your proposed name (or a very similar one) is already in use. Remember, a name being unavailable here is a clear sign you need to think of alternatives. However, even if a name appears not to have been registered at Companies House it does not necessarily mean it is available for you to use. Brands don’t all register with Companies House, neither do sole traders.

2. Trademark Search

Next, performing a trademark search using the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) database is a really good move. This will reveal if your proposed name or a part of it is trademarked. Avoiding infringement on existing trademarks is crucial, as it could lead to legal challenges and force a costly rebranding later. This may not always be straightforward so Intellectual Property Specialists such as National Business Register do offer this search facility and provide you with a report explaining whether this name has been trade marked already and the likelihood of you being able to trade mark the name in the future should you wish to.

3. Domain Name Availability

In today’s digital world, having a matching domain name is vital for online presence. Use domain registration websites to check the availability of your desired business name as a domain. Consider securing common variations to protect your brand. So as well as .com.  Start.Biz have a search tool which is pretty handy as it is free to use and searches domains, Companies House and the internal Business Name Register for those Business names that have already been taken. 

4. Social Media Platforms

Check major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to ensure your business name is available. Consistency across these platforms enhances brand recognition and makes it easier for customers to find you.

5. Google Search

Conduct a Google search to see if there are any businesses operating with a similar name. This can also reveal if the name has some unintended associations or meanings you weren’t aware of.

Come to Start.Biz

Start.Biz offer a Business Name Protection product whish means we undertake thorough checks of google, social media, Companies House and domains. With an option to purchase a Trade mark search through their partner National Business Register.

After the search you have the option to purchase Business Name Protection which protects your business’ name from being copied or stolen.  This means the first £10,000 worth of legal fees are paid for by Start.Biz, one less thing for your to have to worry about.

Offline Checks

1. Local Business Directories

While online checks are crucial, don’t overlook the importance of offline methods. Start with local business directories and Yellow Pages. These can provide information about local businesses not listed online or those with minimal digital presence.

2. Trade Associations and Chambers of Commerce

Consulting trade associations and local Chambers of Commerce can offer insights into existing businesses in your sector. They might have records of businesses that are not easily found online but are well known in the industry.

3. Networking Events

Attend local business networking events and talk to other entrepreneurs. These interactions can provide valuable information and insights about existing business names and market presence in your industry.

4. Local Authority Checks

Contact your local authority as they may have records of registered business names in your area. They can also provide guidance on any local regulations or restrictions concerning business names.

5. Public Libraries

Public libraries can be a resource for local business information. They often have archives of local newspapers and business magazines that might not be available online.

Additional Considerations

1. Cultural Sensitivity and Global Appeal

Ensure your chosen name is culturally sensitive and has no negative connotations. This is particularly important if you plan to expand your business internationally.

2. Future Expansion

Consider the scalability of your name. A name that’s too narrow or location-specific might limit your business’s potential for growth and expansion. Do you want to be Birmingham Taxi’s or West Midlands Logistics? Claire’s Cakes or Claire’s Bakes.

3. Seek Professional Advice

If you’re unsure about the process or the results of your checks, consider seeking advice from a legal professional or a business advisor. They can provide expertise in navigating the complexities of business name registration and trademark laws.

4. Register and Protect Your Name

Once you’ve cleared all checks and settled on a name, proceed with registration and claim your domains.  Agents such as Start.Biz is able to do this for you or you can register a company with Companies House and for domains yourself. Consider trademarking your name for added protection.


Choosing a business name in the UK is a task that requires meticulous research and strategic planning. Conducting thorough online and offline checks is imperative to ensure that your chosen name is unique, legally compliant, and ready to make its mark in the market.

By utilising these smart strategies, you can navigate through the process smoothly and lay a strong foundation for your brand’s identity and success. Remember, your business name is more than just a label; it’s the first step in telling your brand’s story and connecting with your audience.

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