Did you know PayPal was founded as Confinity? And eBay was first known as AuctionWeb?
Finding a business name is part of establishing a brand identity. It can help set customer expectations, indicate the type of business, convey brand values and affect ROI. In fact, research shows that strong catchy names perform up to 33 per cent better on the stock market than weak names.
A name can help a business stand out from competitors and draw customers’ attention, and it can encourage customers to feel a connection through emotion, curiosity or appeal. A name that is easy to recall and repeat will help word of mouth and referrals, and a memorable name is more likely to stay top of mind, generating repeat sales and reducing marketing spend. Of course, a name isn’t just for attracting customers, but is also for building a brand that talent will want to be part of. (Would you prefer to work for Google or BackRub? – it’s original name.)
As the Google / BackRub example demonstrates, every word has an association and a meaning attached to it, and a strong name should communicate a product, service or value proposition.
Desk Space member James Taylor named his start-up Particular Audience– a cross-selling and promotion optimisation technology for eCommerce – because his technology helps websites target a specific group of people and cater to specific wants or needs. The name also needed to be easily communicated (spoken and understood) for prospecting and outbound sales over the phone.
In determining a name James was however restricted by the availability of .com domains. “We cycled through various options and considered alternative domains like .io, .co, and .com.au. Having clients outside of Australia, paired with our ambition to be a very global company we needed a .com,” James says. Desk Space member Sellablewas likewise restricted by domain name, but as an Australia-focused platform could go with com.au.
A name should also establish a tone that appeals to customers and their aspirations. Sellable’s mission is “to make your property sale the experience it should be: quick, easy and without hassle,” and the word “sellable” communicates this in a simple, user-friendly manner.
Digital marketing has a crowded competitive landscape, so a memorable name is a necessity for standing out and differentiating a business from the pack. BirdBrainis so named for its approach based on simplicity. “Unlike other digital marketing agencies, we never lock in contracts and are accountable monthly to report in person on how we contributed to the growth of our clients’ businesses,” says Nick Druery. “This no-bullshit accountability and the transparency and dedication is refreshing for our clients of whom 90 per cent have been previously jaded by lazy, short-sighted, churn-and-burn, get you to #1 ranking agencies.”
Brand names can also be very personal, especially for a small business when the work is very much about the people who provide it. Interior designer Kait Zegers and interior architect Jessica Williams named their company KAJA Studio, which subtly incorporates their initials – Kait Ann Zegers and Jessica Antretter Williams. “Our brand is strongly based on our passion and experience in the industry. It was important for us to reflect who we are, but also keep the opportunity open for other creatives to join our team,” says Jessica. “The use of the word ‘studio’ was important as we refer to our office as a studio, which enhances creativity and a place for design and an open mind.”
So, what’s in name? A lot. And for more examples of what well-known companies used to be called just BackRub “famous companies original names.” (Nope, it’s just not the same.)