A new freedom of information (FOI) request submitted by Simply Business found that a total of 56,640 business names have been rejected by Companies House between January 2019 and April 2022. Over half (25,400) were rejected on the grounds of containing a ‘restricted or offensive word’.

Some of the rejected names include ‘Forking Good Charcoal Grill’, ‘Lawnporn UK’, and ‘Doggy Style’.

A company name can be rejected by Companies House for two reasons, either it already exists or because it contains a restricted word. Reference to Royalty is one example of a restrictive word as it could suggest an association with a body or organisation that is protected under law. Over 1,400 business names that included ‘King’, ‘Queen’ or ‘Royal’ were rejected – examples include ‘Rooster Royal’, ‘Royal Peri Peri’, ‘Queen of Green’, ‘Queenie’,’Banterking’ and ‘Alpaca Kings’.

Businesses would need prior permission from the relevant government department to use a restrictive word. Find out more on how to do a UK trademark search.

A recent study of 2,000 consumers from small business insurance provider Simply Business revealed how a witty or funny business name can play a huge part in helping small businesses succeed, with one third (28%) of people stating they’d be more likely to shop at a small or local business with a funny or witty business name compared to those without. Two thirds (64%) of people say that they would also be more likely to notice a small or local business with a funny or witty business name.

Of those who would be more likely to purchase from a small business with a funny business name, over half (57%) said this is because the name makes the business more memorable. Other key reasons include: it makes the business stand out (55%), they appreciate the creativity (51%) and it adds personality to the business (51%).

In total, the UK’s six million SMEs account for over 99% of all businesses, 33% of employment and 21% of turnover. Collectively they play a significant contribution to our local communities and the wider UK economy. Business owners are turning to creative names to help stand out from the crowd.

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business comments: “The impact a memorable business name can have on your business is incredible – our research suggests that a third of customers are more likely to spend with businesses with witty names. Having said that, it is clearly important to tread carefully when considering your options! We’re incredibly proud to provide tailored insurance to over 800,000 witty, creative and diverse small businesses in the UK, recognising their importance to both the economy and our local communities.”

In June, Perky Blenders, a London-based specialty coffee roasters, beat over 1,500 punny-named small businesses to be presented with ‘Britain’s Best Small Business Name’ and received a £2,500 grant from Simply Business.

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