Business name trends – what’s hot and what’s not?

What’s hot in corporate naming in 2021? 

In this article we discuss our findings, compare changes with previous year, look at how you can choose the perfect name for your company, and suggest where you can register your business.

How did we gather this data?

We took the Companies House company formation data for the year so far (from 1 January to 26 August 2021). We’ve excluded insignificant words like limited and Ltd. After sorting the data we’ve compared it with the results from the same period last year. 

Read: Company naming trends: what should you call your company in 2020?

Comparison to 2020 – key changes

Infographic showing the most common words used in business names

The top 10 words in 2021 have a lot of similarities with our 2020 list. Property, company, group, holdings, management, and solutions all feature in both top 10 lists. These names are a combination of functional accessories, indicators of stature, declarations of industry, or statements of company type. Terms like solutions and management may indicate businesses that want the flexibility to adapt their offerings as client demand changes. Group and holdings tend to indicate umbrella companies or those with big ambitions. 

Looking at words that dropped into or out of these top 10 lists gives us an indication of how entrepreneurs view the UK market. 

Home, bar and design all fell out of favour in 2021, only to be replaced by the less cosy and more corporate terms consulting, investments, properties. Home, in particular, fell by a shocking 49%. Bar plummeted by 78%. 

Has the market turned away from warm, soft-sounding brand names and moved towards more corporate and more overtly profit-driven identities? The data certainly suggests a shift in the types of companies that are emerging in 2021.

There are some distinctive differences between this year and last, all of which suggest there are different forces at play, which might include everything from sector-specific changes, consumer trends, political pressures, health concerns – and even weather patterns. 

Let’s break down some of the most significant movers and shakers.

Infographic showing year on year increase in usage of words in business names

Property booms

A strange side-effect of the pandemic was a change in the qualities that people desire in a home. Whether driven by a need for more rooms, a thirst for outside space, or a craving for fresh views, the property market was booming in 2021, with a year-on-year price rise of 8%. This increase in activity and optimism may be the cause for the 22% increase in the use of property in company names. 

Digital surges

From 20th place in 2020, digital surged ahead to 5th position in 2021. Could this be connected to the pandemic, and the push to make everything virtual and remote? Perhaps more companies are striving to position their digital skills as a core part of their offering.

Initials are popular

Company names incorporating initial letters are as popular as ever. Interestingly, the top choices are J and M, featuring in a combined 3628 company names in the year so far. 

Fit and health are in freefall

Have we passed the peak of the pandemic health kick? Big drops in fit (86%) and health (53%) certainly suggest that the push for health and fitness offerings has waned, and the nation craves something a little less virtuous. 

UK falls out of favour

Has Brexit affected the perception of the UK in global markets? Could our decision to leave the EU be responsible for the 19% reduction in the use of UK in company names? Interestingly, global saw a 5% increase in uses, which hints at a desire to align with a wider international community.

Auto stalls

The automotive trade has been both hampered by lockdowns but also somewhat buoyed by an increase in people wanting to explore more freely, and a degree of reluctance to use public transport during the pandemic. These contradictory forces contributed to a 63% drop in the use of auto in company names. 

Why does a business name matter?

You only get one chance to make a first impression and the same counts for your business name. It will be the first thing a customer will interact with, so a strong name and brand are key to success.

Your business name will create an emotional response with your customers, so it needs to represent your story and values. A unique or catchy name will help your customers to remember you and, in turn, help to retain them. When choosing your company name, opt for something unique so you can be easily recognised. 

Examples of great business names include Lego, which is an abbreviation of the Danish phrase leg goht, meaning ‘play well’, as well as Twitter. The logo image of a bird aligns perfectly with how the platform works with short comments and chatter, just like bursts of birdsong.

Choosing your business name

Your business name sets the tone for your brand and the experiences you create. It suggests your position in the market and your approach to serving customers. It can also convey your brand and key factors of your proposition.

And it’s usually one of the first big business decisions you need to make.

While all of the above is very true, it’s also important to note that you can always trade under a different identity if your company pivots in a new direction. And some companies are known by the name of their product rather than their limited company name. So you don’t have to feel too restricted by the choice you make now.

Read our guide: How to name a business

Check your business name

As you figure out what kind of name is best for your business, you’ll need to consider whether your favourites are available, and whether other businesses are already using that name. 

It’s a great idea to Google the names you like so you can if other businesses are already using similar names. 

In the UK, you can check with Companies House, or use Tide’s Company Name Check tool, which will check your preferred name against over 4 million entries in the Companies House database and let you know if your name is available. You can bulk check up to 8 names at once. 

If you find someone else has registered your business name first, then it’s best to think about alternative names, as legally, you cannot register a name if it is already in the Companies House database of registered businesses. The alternative is that you could approach the owner of the company with the same name and discuss purchasing the name from them. This could be a very costly and lengthy process.

How to officially register your business name?

Sole Traders (if turnover is over £85,000) and partnerships must register with HMRC. If you are setting up a limited company, then you must register your business with Companies House. You will be charged a £12 incorporation fee, although if you use Tide’s company registration service, this will be paid for you. Registering your business does not mean your name is trademarked, as this is a separate process.

How to change a business name?

First, you should check whether your new name is available – you can do this via Companies House or Tide’s Company Name Check tool.

If it is available then you need to follow these processes:

  • Update your statutory registers
  • Inform HMRC, or the IRS if in the USA
  • Change your domain name
  • Update/change your company logo
  • Update your company website
  • Inform your bank
  • Tell your customers and suppliers!

Sarah Penney

Sarah Penney

PR and Communications Manager

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