Business development · 6 February 2018

Buzzwords to Brexit: Britain’s strange habits when naming a business

Does a company’s success depend on its name?

How generic is the name of your company? New research might be able to show you, after revealing the trends, buzzwords and clichés employed by entrepreneurs when naming a business.

Analysing data pulled from Companies House, researchers at Premier BusinessCare were able to draw out the long-held traditions of British business names and reflect on some emerging trends.

Before we consider the findings in more detail, take a look at some of the headline stats.

  • 62 businesses were registered with “Brexit” in their name by 2017
  • 16,859 firms include the words “Son” or “Sons” – in contrast, only 320 included “Daughter”
  • 8,090 business contained the name “John”, but “Rose” was the only female name to feature in the top 15
  • 5,313 companies include Yorkshire in their name – the most popular region in the UK
  • Over half of business names in the UK are between 17-27 characters in length, with the average company using 22 characters

Clichés

Perhaps predictably, the words “limited” and “ltd” appeared most frequently in Companies House records. The following will also sound familiar.

  • “Services” (228,612 businesses)
  • “Management” (135,610 businesses)
  • “UK” (118,314 businesses)
  • “Company” (106,253 businesses)
  • “The” (105,151 businesses)

Researchers noted that “The” had begun to drop off in popularity among big firms, with Facebook dropping the suffix when it registered facebook.com in 2005.

The most commonly used words

Borrowing brand equity

With the use of countries in business names still a popular option, entrepreneurs continue to leverage the images of existing terms that can build brand equity from the start and provoke an emotional response from consumers.

According to the analysis, the terms “Scotland” and “Scottish” were three times more popular than “Britain” or “British”, and four times more popular than “England” or “English”.

Head of brand at branding agency RBL, Rebecca Battman, explained why this pattern appeared. Ask anyone what ‘Scottish’ stands for, the answer is probably passion, history and pride. Ask the same question about England, and the answer doesn’t roll quite so easily off the tongue.”

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What’s changing?

A decade ago, nobody had heard of Brexit or a drone. Clearly that’s all changed, and the evolution of language is reflected in our business names.

By 2017, there were 62 instances of “Brexit” in businesses registered at Companies House, including:

  • Brexit Biscuit Company Limited
  • Blame it on Brexit Ltd.
  • Brexit Beverages Ltd.
  • The Brexit Diner Limited
  • Brexit The Opera Ltd.

Whether the above companies were looking to spark outrage or intrigue, the names play on the tension the word Brexit can conjure.

Meanwhile, the growth of the e-cigarette market saw use of the word “vape” increase by 446 per cent between 2014 and 2016, with 273 uses in total.

“By choosing a name that’s too specific, you may limit your future,” Battman added.

“This is where brand architecture comes in to play. A good naming solution will provide a framework that enables a business to grow and develop its service offering in ways that might not have been imagined at the beginning.”

For budding business owners hoping to avoid the clichés and ensure longevity, Battman offered some final words of guidance to help settle on the perfect name.

“One of the first rules of naming a business is make the name easy to say, easy to spell and easy to remember. So, short simple names like Eat, Virgin, Apple or Biba work well.

“However, securing a simple name at Companies House and with a strong URL, without infringing on anyone else’s trademark is becoming increasingly difficult. The best names are often gone, which is why we see so many made up or conjoined names emerging.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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