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Here's why you can't name a business whatever you want in Vancouver

Pesky naming conventions.
How do businesses in Vancouver get their names?

Much like naming a child, painstaking care goes into choosing a business name. Or at least one would hope.

TikToker and recent Vancouver transplant @mostlycake made a video roasting the names of Main Street businesses such as Bob Likes Thai Food, The Sellution, and Vancouver Special for being particularly opaque or bizarre business names.

A name can tell you exactly what you're in for when you walk in the door like whether or not the owner is funny or if the place contains Thai food beloved by a man named Bob. It can also intrigue and entice you to come in and find out. Both are effective methods of promoting a business but are they the only considerations?

It turns out there are a whole host of rules and guidelines that would-be business owners have to follow before they can have their name approved by the B.C. government.

There are obvious rules like no slurs, vulgar expressions, or obscene words, but then there are some considerations that most people may not have thought of. Some of these regulations also aren't hard and fast rules so much as red tape that could prevent you from having your name approved when you submit your name request form.

What must be included in a business name?

Firstly, the business name can't already exist. For obvious reasons. But a lot of the other rules around naming are actually based on clarity and avoiding confusion. For instance, business owners are asked to avoid special characters and symbols like per cent signs (%) and asterisks (*) that might not print accurately or be recognized by a computer.

Business owners are also asked to include a distinctive element and a descriptive feature in the name, so basically a noun and an adjective that identifies who or where the business belongs, and what exactly it does.

Three different potential business names ranked in order of preference must be submitted for consideration and the government suggests using synonyms for the descriptor.

The name must also include a corporate designation (like LTD) if relevant.

What isn't allowed?

The two non-negotiable rules for business names in Vancouver involve implying a connection to the government and/or the royal family. A name that suggests a connection to the crown or member of the royal family won't be accepted and neither will the word government in English or French or any form of B.C. The only exception is with written consent from one of the two bodies.

Likewise, business names that use pre-existing well-known names like 'Coke' won't be accepted without written consent from the originator.

The other rules are less strict. Single-word business names are unlikely to be approved unless it's a made-up proprietary words. And personal names are allowed for a corporation or society.

The same goes for numerals. Numbers are allowed as part of a name, like the distinctive element, but they can't be the whole name unless it's incorporated. 

Some of the best business names in Vancouver

The city of Vancouver doesn't have any rules for business names or signage so other than these guidelines, the sky's the limit. Let your imagination run wild.

Here are a few of our favourite Vancouver business names:

  • Liquids & Solids
  • Daddy's Kitchen
  • The Regional Assembly of Text
  • Escobar (closed now)
  • Lil Willy's
  • 7-Inch Waffle House
  • Cheapskates
  • Storm City Coffee
  • Their There
  • Gluten Fakery
@mostlycake Replying to @willowfaith0 #greenscreen ok I'm back and I'm sorry I'm not sorry. my review of Vancouver business streets on main street, on main. if I hurt your feelings, please remember there's no ethical literature under capitalism. #yvr #yvrfood #yvreats #yvrlife #yvrrealestate #vancouver #vancouverbc #names #businessname #vancouverlife #roasts #roastsession #comic #comedy #comedian #funny #millenial #sorrynotsorry #softserve #dairyqueen #rankings #review #reply #replytocomments #monster #canadiancomedy #local #localhumor #yvrcomedy #canada🇨🇦 #expat ♬ original sound - funnygirlblues
@mostlycake Replying to @mostlycake #greenscreen more chaos. to celebrate Kennedy Stewart's next chapter of Netflix & chilling, here's more unfounded chicanery on Main Street. DISCLAIMER: All roasts are a reflection of my mental state and have *nothing* to do with quality of business. Plz fwd all complaints to Ken Sim. #expat #yvrcomedy #localhumor #local #canadiancomedy #replytocomments #rankings #review #canada🇨🇦 #yvr #yvrfood #yvreats #yvrlife #vancouver #vancouverbc #vancouverlife #roast #mainstreet #gastownvancouver #steamclock #part2 #softserve #dairyqueen #sorrynotsorry #tall #existentialcrisis #names ♬ original sound - funnygirlblues