A company’s name is often the first time a potential customer will hear of a business.
As the equivalent of a first handshake, it should stand out and be memorable.
While company naming is ultimately an art, there are certainly ways to make the process more systematic.
And so, this guide provides an overview of factors to consider and steps to take to find your perfect company name.
Here’s how we’ll break it down:
- We’ll start with SSM’s non-negotiable rules on company naming conventions
- Keeping those rules in mind, we look at market factors that affect business name suitability
- We’ll take a look at a couple of successful companies with iconic brand names
- We’ll suggest some tools to help with company name suggestions
- We’ll finish with a link to SSM’s company name list for you to check your shortlisted names
SSM company name guidelines
As the legislative authority on all matters related to the running of companies in Malaysia, your chosen business name must be approved by the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).
To keep this guide concise, we’ve condensed SSM’s official guidelines into a digestible list.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind about company names:
- it must not be too similar to an existing business entity’s name
- it must not contain words that could misrepresent your business (naming a toy shop ‘Kid’s Cuisine’)
- it can be a mix of words from multiple languages (but meaning must be provided)
- it can use words you’ve invented yourself (but meaning must be provided)
- it should not only contain general words like ‘Beautiful Sdn Bhd’
- it (obviously) must not contain potentially blasphemous or indecent language
- it must not be an acronym that can be confused with government agencies (such as SSM!)
- it must not contain words suggesting a link to Malaysian royalty, federal, or international bodies
- it must not use words controlled by certain statutory bodies except with their written permission
To elaborate on that last point, an example would be how the Board of Architects Malaysia controls the use of the words ‘architect’, ‘arkitek’, and ‘akitek’ from being used without their permission.
For a full list of control words and corresponding authorities, check out the official SSM document here.
With SSM’s rules as an anchor, let’s consider market factors.
Market factors to consider during a business name search
1. Short and long term benefits
While it’s great for a business name to create and deliver on customer expectations, there is such a thing as a name being so specific it limits potential expansion into other products or services.
On the other hand, a word without meaning such as ‘Petronas’ allows for potentially limitless expansion (wpretty much what the brand has done), but in the early days of running your business, customer acquisition costs will be higher due to increased need for brand awareness.
2. Online searchability
If you intend to establish an online presence for your business (and why wouldn’t you?) then SEO-friendliness should be a major consideration.
Ideally, when someone searches for your company name, it should be the first result on the first page of whatever seach engine they’re using.
For this to happen, you should choose a name that:
- is unlikely to be confused with another brand name, and
- is easy to remember and spell
- does not have similar sounding competitors on social media
Also, it helps tremendously if your business has a website with its name in the URL using a common domain like .com or .my (since this is a Malaysian company).Â
3. Earworm / viral / catchiness potential
This is obviously extremely subjective, so we’ll just use an example that we love.
Here’s a fish and chips restaurant in Australia called Frying Nemo.
It’s obviously a play on words that references beloved Pixar movie Finding Nemo.
It manages to be humorous while still being clearly related to the nature of business and family-frendly.
Even people who don’t want to eat fish and chips will mention it just because of the joke.
This organic engagement is invaluable – it’s free marketing that costs the owner zero effort.
Keeping in mind both SSM rules and market factors, we’d now like to highlight some of our favourite Malaysian-grown brand names.
Examples of great brand names in Malaysia
1. Inside Scoop
Inside Scoop is Malaysia’s top premium ice cream brand inspired by a gap in the market dominated by international chains. It was recently acquired by an international conglomerate for RM84 million!
Why it’s a great brand name: The name is clearly a play on the term ‘inside scoop’ from journalism circles which refers to an exclusive story, implying that the scoops of ice cream are of a similarly premium quality (which indeed they are).
It’s basically a well-written dad joke. Well done.
2. Giant Hypermarket
Giant Hypermarket is one of Malaysia’s leading hypermarket retail brands, with 77 years of operating and 46 hypermarket outlets throughout Malaysia.Â
Why it’s a great brand name: The name is straightforward and blunt and delivers exactly what a customer expects: a massive space dedicated to consumer goods at affordable prices. Remember how SSM guidelines prohibits overly vague descriptions? This is a great example of a general adjective + noun combination that absolutely works.
Bonus: They’ve even launched a series of smaller mini markets adorably named ‘Giant Mini’!
3. Bila-Bila Mart
Bila-Bila is the youngest name on this list and a homegrown convenience store founded in 2020 during the thick of Malaysia’s Covid-19 troubles. They’ve more than weathered the storm, though – as of 2023, they have 37 outlets throughout Klang Valley!
Why it’s a great brand name: The word ‘bila-bila’ is clearly the Bahasa Melayu word for ‘anytime’ which perfectly captures the essence of a convenience store while also declaring one’s Malaysian identity.
The Bahasa Melayu – English mix further strengthens ties to Malaysian culture as daily interactions in our country involve ample code mixing.
With these examples to inspire you, let’s check out some free tools to help brainstorm company names.
Tools to help with company name suggestions
Brainstorming company names is a perfect use case for AI, and here are some tools you might consider using:
- ChatGPT – to prompt for everything from business names to business models and slogans
- Namique – a specific tool to rapidly create multiple company name suggestions with minimal prompting
- Keywords Everywhere – to help you predict and plan SEO potential for a name or business
- Spyfu – to help you spy on potential competitors to your business
Combined, these tools turn you into a small marketing agency that can rapidly generate business names and filter out the rubbish ones.
Now you have a list of potential names, time for the final part:Â checking for company name availability with SSM.
Checking desired company names with SSM
Here’s how to verify the availability of a company name through SSM:
- Visit www.ssm-einfo.my
- Register for a free account
- Fill in and submit the registration form
- Log in with your username & password
- Under Company & Business Information, click ‘Search’
- Enter your desired company name in the box ‘By Name’
And you’re done.
If the name is available, there will be no search results.
If you are unsure, you can reserve the name for 30 days and RM50 with the option of paying another RM50 and extending the reservation for another 30 days.
Otherwise, you can then begin the process of company incorporation with the available business name.
Which brings us to the true beginning of your business journey.
Let MISHU incorporate your company
Incorporating a Sdn Bhd involves preparing many documents and filing them with the relevant authorities. If you’re about to start a new company your hands are going to be full.
MISHU has resources and partnerships in many key areas and would love to help you incorporate your company! Get in touch with us today.