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  • Jenni Jackson

What's in a name?

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Choosing a name for your fledgling company is probably one of the most important business decisions you’ll ever have to make.

You want something eye-catching and memorable, of course. But you also want something which bears some sort of relationship to yourself – your family name, perhaps, or the location of your operation. Which is where things can come unravelled if you’re not careful.

For example, is ‘Burns Heating’ a deliberate or an unthinking play on words, do we think? Whichever, it’s certainly memorable in a way which could even be good for business. Perhaps not so clever, though, is our local coach company which, for years, gloried under the banner of ‘R Souls’. Perfectly fine in writing but … The ‘R’ was quietly dropped long ago, but the puzzle is why they allowed it to remain for so long. Perhaps it’s true that ‘to the pure all things are pure’.

This whole company names thing has given rise to an amusing pastime across our extended family; we ‘collect’ restrictive business names – names which appear to drastically restrict a business’s options out in the marketplace.

The ‘niche marketing’ game began many years ago when I had to write a commercial profile on a company called ‘B & B Decorators’. My husband spotted the problem at once. “Just B & Bs? That seems to be cutting down their options,” he remarked with a grin. “So they won’t repaint hotels or guest houses, then? I suppose they’d down tools and walk off the job if they found one of their customers serving evening meals…”

I passed that little gem on to the rest of the family, and that was it; a steady trickle of sightings like ‘Castle Windows’ – they are just glassless slits, surely; not much double glazing needed there, we’d have thought? Then there was ‘Castle Roofing’ – how many castles need new roofs these days anyway?

Of late, we have fully embraced the latest technology and moved on to photo evidence. Being driven down the M1, I was delighted to snap a van sporting the legend ‘King Lifting’ – there aren’t too many kings around these days for goodness sake, and I can’t imagine that the remaining few need much in the way of lifting… This pic was joined recently by one of a neat little café in the wilds of Yorkshire called ‘MP’s Tea Rooms’ – a bit out of the way to attract many of the Westminster crowd, one would have thought. And one of the latest sightings was ‘White Roofing Repairs’… you get the picture, I’m sure.

So where are we going with all this? Nowhere terribly significant, I guess. Just flagging up the importance of a little bit of thought before rushing to register that new business. Unless, of course, you're quite happy giving our family a chuckle…

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