What is a trading style?

A trading style (sometimes referred to as ‘Trading as names’) is the term used when a business chooses to trade under a different name than the registered company name. Unlike the company name, the trading style is never officially registered with Companies House.

In our case, Butler Westbury Limited is our registered business name and Talk Loans is the trading style. For the most part, we will use Talk Loans as our customer-facing brand name.

Why do companies use trading styles?

There are several reasons why a company may choose to use a trading style.

A registered business name is often more formal, and not necessary related to the company’s main product or service.  Similarly, the business may move in a different direction to the registered company name, meaning it is no longer relevant. A company may decide that they want to make their brand more marketable, in which case a trading style may help them to do so.

More commonly, a company will opt to use a trading style when it becomes limited for the first time. If a business has been operating for a number of years under a specific name without being a registered limited company, they’ll be keen to avoid changing it and confusing their customers.

Likewise, if one company buys another, it would make sense for them to use the existing name and register the holding company as a new limited company.

Multiple companies using the same trading style

Multiple companies can use a single trading name – providing there are no objections to doing so.

For example, if you carry out a quick Google search for “The Cod Father” you’ll find 20+ local fish and chip stores trading under this name. These types of businesses will typically be independent or family-run sole traders and are therefore not obliged to register their business under a different name.

If, however two companies come to blows over the use of the same trading style, legal action can ensue.

Often though, for marketing and brand purposes, companies will tend to avoid using trading styles that have already been taken

Trading styles in financial services

The use of trading styles is particularly prominent in the financial services industry. This is because companies will look to gain the competitive edge over the market. Having a memorable brand can  put you at an advantage, especially when marketing on platforms such as TV or radio.

So, if a company answers the phone with a different name to the one you expected, don’t be alarmed. Simply ask whether the aforementioned name is a trading style of their registered company.

« Back to Glossary Index