Many of our clients ponder for some time on their Company name, and often decide upon a combination of their surname(s) and a descriptive word or phrase like "Events Management" or "Marketing Consultancy". The Company then can be seen to do exactly as it says on the tin. Other names are more obscure and give little clue as to the business behind them, but are "catchy" and memorable in themselves.
We always begin our advice by pointing out that there are legal restrictions on the choice of a company name:
- the use of certain words such as "Scotland" "Group" and "Holdings" must be justified;
- the chosen name cannot be the same as or too similar to another name already registered;
- care must be taken to avoid the common law action of "passing off" where an established business can show that a new business is causing confusion between the two businesses and benefitting from the goodwill built up in the pre-existing similar name; and
- care must also be taken in case the new name infringes an existing registered trademark and the company plans to trade under the new name.
Once a company is established, branding and the company's name are inextricably linked. The value attached to a company name depends upon the business behind it: a company may have a memorable name and a lousy business. The reverse is also true - "Apple" was just one of our 5 a day - who would have guessed that this would become a company name known worldwide? In this example, the goodwill built up in the name is where the real value lies, yet we can't imagine this business changing its name any time soon.
Some famous company name changes (for the better):
- Google was originally Backrub;
- AuctionWeb became eBay;
- Brad's Drink became Pepsi Cola;
- Il Giornale Coffee Company became Starbucks; and
- Nike was originally Blue Ribbon Sports.
One questionable UK company name change was in 2001, when Royal Mail (known as such since 1635 & the reign of Charles I) changed to Consignia. Just a year later it was changed back to Royal Mail.
When it comes to your company name, choose wisely. After all, just as with the Montagues and the Capulets, loyalty and the resultant value can be tied to a name. We're able to guide you through the initial company name choice, subsequent company name changes and thereafter we can also advise on brand protection and intellectual property issues.