What’s in a name? Shoppers prefer businesses with full marks in spelling

Offenders of the grammar police, beware: the name of your business could have a big impact on custom.

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Research¹ from Barclays Business asked UK consumers whether the name of a business can help or hinder trade and found that SMEs with good spelling are top of the class, with 89% of shoppers saying they are more encouraged to shop there. After grammar gripes, a memorable business name is the second most compelling factor when attracting custom (87%), followed by a link to UK heritage in the name (72%).

Brand Britain

Family businesses are an important part of UK culture and the Barclays poll found that almost two thirds (64%) of consumers admit they are more likely to buy from a family named business. For shoppers in the West Midlands this increases to three quarters (76%).

Regional loyalty also proved an important factor for 57% who say they are more likely to use a business named after its location. This is particularly prevalent across some of the UK’s major cities, with three quarters (76%) of those in and around Bristol more likely to spend their cash at businesses named after the city, followed by over two thirds (69%) of consumers in and around Newcastle preferring businesses named after local references.

No puns please

The research also found that businesses with references to the monarchy or those that contain a pun in their name are less likely to attract custom, appearing at the bottom of the poll. Two thirds of consumers (76%) would be put off from using a business with Royal references, and three in five (60%) would be less inclined to shop at companies with puns in the title.

Adam Rowse, head of business banking at Barclays said, “When starting a business, the naming and branding process can be very influential for future business success – it tells consumers everything they should know about the business and first impressions count. In some cases the name continues for generations. Our poll shows that it’s important not to overlook the finer details such as grammar or spelling which, if incorrect, can be detrimental to trade. Businesses that demonstrate their UK heritage resonate well with consumers and we know the value that Brand Britain has on both domestic and overseas spend. Staying front of mind with a memorable name can also be a winning ingredient for business growth.”

The research also revealed that reputation, convenience and the history of a business are key factors in determining where consumers choose to shop. Nearly half of consumers (46%) choose a business recommended by friends or family. When shopping online, 42% agree that a poorly designed website is a turn off, while over a third (37%) will pay more for products or services from a business that they trust over one they do not. Just over a quarter (28%) would travel further to use a business they know and trust.

Adam Rowse continued, “Advances in online and social media mean that UK SMEs need to stay ahead of the curve when attracting target audiences. Having a solid marketing strategy is pivotal to help businesses compete and grow. This could include; investing in digital marketing such as building a strong website, social media channels or search engine optimisation, promoting feedback and reviews – recommendations pay dividends and are crucial to retaining a customer base – or rewarding customer loyalty to encourage repeat visits. While a good name can put a business on the map, a great brand strategy will help to keep them there.”


1 – Research conducted by Opinium for Barclays from 25 – 29 September 2015, polling 2,006 UK adults.