Using numbers in a business name, or purposefully omitting vowels could put off potential customers, a new analysis of company names suggests.
The study of more than 2.5 million business names registered at Companies House was undertaken by Starling Bank to help people starting a new business choose the best name for their enterprise. Analysts examined common business naming trends, which were then tested with the public to assess the names entrepreneurs should adopt or avoid.1
The study revealed that using numbers in a brand name (e.g. Phones4U, 3M) is the naming category most disliked by the public, second only to names that purposefully omit vowels (e.g. Abrdn, Tumblr) with approval among the public a lowly 32% and 43% respectively.
Similarly, one-letter prefixes (eToro, eBay), initials (DHL, BMW), acronyms (FIAT, MAC) or any business name with ‘Direct’ on the end (Sports Direct, Tiles Direct) are also relatively unpopular choices [Full table with % below].
The naming convention most preferred by the public is the use of a family name (e.g. Warburtons, WH Smith), which nine in 10 (89%) like. Other popular options include naming after a location (Cotswold Co, Patagonia), or selecting food (Apple, Nutmeg) or animals (Giraffe, Jaguar) as inspiration for the brand. Puns are also well-liked, but more for small or local businesses.
There are generational divides when it comes to naming conventions; those aged 55+ dislike brand names that are derived from Latin or Greek words (e.g. Certis, Diageo) or made-up words (Deliveroo, Zavvi) more than those aged under 35.
Men are more likely than women to dislike blended names (e.g. Groupon, Accenture) or made-up options (Häagen-Dazs), while women are put off more by names with missing vowels and acronyms.
What’s in a name?
Selecting a company name can have pitfalls. Four in 10 (40%) small business owners have regrets, including choosing a name that doesn’t reflect what their company does, feeling they rushed their decision, or because they chose a name that was too similar to an established business.
To help, Starling has created a guide for coming up with a great business name, which includes advice on how a brand name could be perceived, the importance of being unique, and considerations around how a brand’s domain name (website) will interact with search engines.
Symmie Swil, Head of SME Banking at Starling Bank said: “Choosing the right business name is important; it influences the identity of a business and how customers perceive it. With the number of small businesses in the UK continuing to grow, our naming guide can help entrepreneurs get off to a good start”.
Christina Hsieh is the founder of structural engineering consultancy Matter, which she rebranded from CH Simple Design in November 2021.
Hsieh said, “When I first started my business, finding the right name was the hardest part – let alone finding one that was available on Companies House. When the pandemic hit, I used that down time to rethink my brand entirely. I applied for a Business Bounceback Loan through Starling Bank, and hired an agency that helped me find a brand name and identity that reflects our core value of engineering brighter futures. I now have the confidence in my brand to be proactive with marketing and social campaigns – the amount of engagement I have had has been brilliant.”