Hello, my name is

On 30 December 2014 the Cabinet Office announced that the Government’s red tape drive has saved business £10 billion over the past 4 years.

The Red Tape Challenge was introduced to give business and the general public the opportunity to challenge the Government to get rid of burdensome regulations, to boost business and economic growth and to save taxpayers money. The Government recognised that whilst good regulation is a good thing, by protecting consumers, employees and the environment, helping build a more fair society and can even save lives, over the years, regulations – and the inspections and bureaucracy that go with them – have piled up and up.  According to the Government, this has hurt business, doing real damage to our economy. The aim of the Red Tape Challenge is for the Government to leave office (whether this year or later) having reduced the overall burden of regulation.      

As part of this challenge, on 31 January 2015, new regulations* come into force, introducing a reduced list of the sensitive words and expressions which companies, LLPs and businesses need Secretary of State approval for to use in their name. Of particular interest is the fact that the following words have been deleted from that list and therefore will no longer require Secretary of State approval: ‘Group’, ‘Holding’, ‘International’, ‘United Kingdom’, ‘National’ and ‘European’.

So if you’re setting up a new company, or thinking of changing the name of an existing one, this will remove the administrative burden of needing approval if you want to use any of the words ‘Group’, ‘Holding’, ‘International’, ‘United Kingdom’, ‘National’ and ‘European’ in your company name. But is a name change ever a good idea? It may not be, if your name is an important element of your brand and you have built up a significant amount of goodwill on your business name and reputation. But it could be, if your business has outgrown its original business model or identity, if the name is confusing or misleading, or if it does not reflect your main activity and focus. Other reasons include mergers and de-mergers, modernisation (BT and Abbey both re-branded because it was what their customers were calling them), targeting a new customer base or expanding into foreign markets. Or even just for simplicity.

Here are some examples of successful business name changes. Can you identify these businesses by their new names? (answers below)

  1. BackRub
  2. Matsushita Electric Corporation of America
  3. Brad’s Drink
  4. National Mutual
  5. Computer Tabulating Recording Corporation
  6. Lucky Goldstar
  7. Datsun
  8. Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K.
  9. Il Giornale Coffee Company
  10. Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web


  1. Google
  2. Panasonic
  3. Pepsi-Cola
  4. AXA
  5. IBM
  6. LG
  7. Nissan
  8. Sony
  9. Starbucks
  10. Yahoo

For more information, email blogs@gateleyuk.com.

*The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014

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This blog is intended only as a synopsis of certain recent developments. If any matter referred to in this blog is sought to be relied upon, further advice should be obtained.