The desi guide to naming your company
On 25, Apr 2014 | In Internal wisdom | By adminrezonant
Anusha M / Brand Associate / Intern 2014 / IIM Indore
In the summer of 2014, when I began interning at Rezonant, I was very curious about the name of the company.
I wanted to know the story behind the name, its significance and how it was decided upon. While all my questions were answered, my curiosity only grew bigger. When a company has just taken birth, how do they conclude about what the name should be? Do they refer to a Rule-book for naming a company?
In more ways than one, naming a company or a product is akin to naming a baby. One puts in a lot of thought and ponders over the future before zeroing on the name. The West nailed it with brands like Google, Xerox, Photoshop, Band-Aid etc. One always says ‘Google‘ it, when you have to search for something online. You don’t say ‘Bing’ it. When someone says I ‘Photoshop‘ped a picture, you know its been edited on Adobe’s Photoshop. No one says I ‘Gimp’ed it. No matter which company has produced it, we always ask for a ‘Band-Aid‘ when we want an adhesive bandage. Johnson&Johnson struck the right chord with the audiences. If you want to photocopy any documents, you ask for it to be ‘Xerox‘ed. Millions of shops in India still put up the name of Xerox to denote that photocopying facilities are available in their shop. These companies got the name right, which translated into establishing an enviable ‘Brand’ value for the company or product. How did the founders decide on the names of these companies and products? How did they have the foresight that these names would command respect?
When I dig deeper to unearth the motive behind great brand names, the findings are intriguing. Companies like Apple and Amazon were named keeping in mind that search engines ordered the results alphabetically. Some names like Intel (Integrated Electronics), Pinterest (Pin Interest) and Palmolive (Palm and olive) are plain portmanteaus of technical words/motive of the product/ingredients.
One would think that Jerry Yang and David Filo just went ‘Yahoo’ at the thought of starting a company. Few know that Yahoo is an abbreviation of a serious name like ‘Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle’. Some companies started off with long names representing what they did or who was involved. As times changed, abbreviating names like IBM (International Business Machines), HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) and WIPRO (Western India PROducts ltd) was essential.
Younger companies back home have similar tales to tell. ‘Saakshin technologies‘ works on security solutions, and their apps were aimed at being the witness to any unfortunate incidents of violence and used the native translation of ‘witness’ to represent themselves. The idea behind ‘Sapta technologies‘ emerged as seven friends got together one evening. After pondering over the name for a month, they realized that Seven was lucky for them. ‘goMowgli‘ wanted to help the globetrotter plan his itinerary with the click of a button. As they wanted to attract people from world over to explore India, they felt that Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli from The Jungle books would be the ideal mascot. ‘2form Studios‘, an architectural firm, wanted to bring buildings to life and that’s how the name came about.
Some were named after cities, and some were named after founders. Some were named merely on a whim. But we’re a country where the scriptures talk about the right way to do everything. We refer to Chanakya’s Arthashastra for matters related to Economics and to Natyashastra for Dance. Even today, Panchatantra serves as our reference manual for moral dilemmas. So I wonder if there could be a guide to naming your brand?
I’m no expert, but I do hope that these 5 thumb-rules will guide you while naming your company, and take it a step forward to becoming a ‘brand’.
1. Communicate your expertise
Your brand name should be able to connect to your customers. If I say Facebook, you know that its a network of people and their profiles with their faces, i.e. their pictures. A name should be meaningful and succinct. It should give your first-time customers a clue about what to expect.
2. Avoid the ‘in’ thing
People die, but brands are immortal. So the name you pick should also be able to withstand the test of time. One would never buy a vehicle called ‘Y2K’ in 2014. Even if the name you choose is ordinary, the company must have the right plan to build the brand and etch a permanent spot in public memory.
3. Extendable to other domains
You must know what you want in the future. Do you see the company expanding into areas other than what you started off with? Dhirubai Ambani started off Reliance industries donning the hat of a visionary. Today, no matter what they try to sell – gadgets or oil, the name Reliance fits in with all of them. One must have the foresight to come up with a brand name which will be suitable, irrespective of the areas of your functioning.
4. Unambiguity is the key
No one wants to wear a tie called ‘Knotty’. Your brand name creates a visual representation in the brain of the customer which instantly helps form a connection with the product. There must be an alignment between the name and the purpose of your product’s main offering. Also, avoid complicated ways of spelling the name. The journalist interviewing you must be able to get the name right without asking you how it is spelled!
5. Represent ‘you’
Last but not the least, your brand name must form a bond with the founders and the team. No matter how fabulous the name is, if you don’t get a positive vibe or a personal connection with the name, then you may not be able to put in hard-work into making it a grand success. It must be loved by your customers and employees alike. But also ensure that the name is memorable yet be worthy of discussion amongst the experts.
I believe that starting your own company is the bravest step an entrepreneur risks taking. There are a lot of ambiguities involved, and most expectations are riding on pure luck. Sometimes, the only way to go is forward. Naming your company is the first step on this tumultuous journey, and I hope that these thumb rules help you solve the riddle!