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What’s in your company name?

Sep 7th, 2012 | By | Category: Startup

What’s in your company name?

Does your business slogan clearly represent what you really do? Is your telemarketing message not working? Is the text on the home page of your website too long and containing key words not enough for search engine optimization?

The use of words to promote a business, person, opinion or idea is called copywriting – “getting across the perfect message, with the perfect words” (Rob Nightingale, from incepto.co.uk).

Words, spoken or written, are not simply groups of characters. This is an enormous power which transforms the world we live in. The whole mankind and every single one of us have been inspired, encouraged, motivated, depressed, persuaded, manipulated and controlled by words. “I love you!” – These three words have already changed and will change lives of millions of people.  But today we are going to touch only one aspect – the ability of words to pass your message to your potential customers and make them buying your product or service – the selling power of words.

The first question: What is the name of your company? Roman saying claims: “Nomen est omen – In name is destiny”. And we sincerely believe that it is true. Really, it is very important to decide what your business name should mean and represent. We are giving you a list of examples from “en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_company_name_etymologies”. Please read it carefully and you will understand the naming strategy without any comments and explanations.

  • 7-Eleven – Convenience stores; renamed from “U-Tote’m” in 1946 to reflect their newly extended hours, 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.
  • Adidas – from the name of the founder Adolf (Adi) Dassler.
  • Amazon.com – founder Jeff Bezos renamed the company Amazon (from the earlier name of Cadabra.com) after the world’s most voluminous river, the Amazon. He saw the potential for a larger volume of sales in an online (as opposed to a bricks and mortar) bookstore.
  • Apple – For the favorite fruit of co-founder Steve Jobs and/or for the time he worked at an apple orchard, and to distance itself from the cold, unapproachable, complicated imagery created by other computer companies at the time.
  • Asus – named after Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology. The first three letters of the word were dropped to get a high position in alphabetical listings.
  • BBCBritish Broadcasting Corporation.
  • BMWBayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Factories)
  • Boeing – named after founder William E. Boeing.
  • Coca-Cola – derived from the “coca leaves” and “kola nuts” used as flavoring. Coca-Cola creator John S. Pemberton changed the ‘K’ of kola to ‘C’ to make the name look better.
  • Equifax – Equitable and factual.
  • Google – an originally accidental misspelling of the word googol and settled upon because google.com was unregistered. Googol was proposed to reflect the company’s mission to organize the immense amount of information available online. A googol is the large number 10100, that is, the digit 1 followed by one hundred zeros in decimal representation
  • IBM – named by Tom (Thomas John) Watson Sr, an ex-employee of National Cash Register. To one-up them in all respects, he called his company International Business Machines.
  • Kodak – Both the Kodak camera and the name were the invention of founder George Eastman. The letter “K” was a favorite with Eastman; he felt it a strong and incisive letter. He tried out various combinations of words starting and ending with “K”. He saw three advantages in the name. It had the merits of a trademark word, would not be mispronounced and the name did not resemble anything in the art. There is a misconception that the name was chosen because of its similarity to the sound produced by the shutter of the camera.
  • Microsoft – coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to microcomputer software.
  • Pepsi – named from the digestive enzyme pepsin.
  • QVCQuality, Value and Convenience
  • Sharp – Japanese consumer electronics company named from its first product, an ever-sharp pencil.
  • Sony – from the Latin word ‘sonus’ meaning sound, and ‘sonny’ a slang word used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster, “since we were sonny boys working in sound and vision”, said Akio Morita.
  • Starbucks – named after Starbuck, a character in Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick.
  • Volvo – from the Latin word volvo, which means “I roll”.
  • Wal-Mart– named after founder Sam Walton
  • Xerox – named from xerography, a word derived from the Greek xeros (dry) and graphos (writing).
  • Yahoo! – The word Yahoo was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book Gulliver’s Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and barely human. Yahoo! Founders David Filo and Jerry Yang jokingly considered themselves yahoos.

The second question: What is your business slogan? And that again, what is a slogan and why we are considering it here? A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a political, commercial, religious or other context as a repetitive expression of an idea or purpose. The word slogan is derived from slogorn which was an Anglicization of the Scottish and Irish Gaelic sluagh-ghairm (sluagh “army”, + gairm “cry”) (from: wikipedia.org/wiki/Slogan).

Regarding marketing, slogan is a short, memorable advertising phrase that often appears in advertisements; a catch phrase or small group of words that are combined in a special way to identify a product or company. For example:

  • Nike – “Just Do It”
  • Home Depot – “You can do it, we can help”
  • FedEx – “Relax, it’s FedEx”
  • Schering – Making medicine work
  • McDonald’s – I’m lovinit!

But it’s not about identification only; it’s about making sales and bringing money to your bank account. Otherwise, why to bother? We are talking business here, not hobbies.

The texts for your website, corporate brochure, article, flayer, postcard or whatever have to be written thoroughly. As Aristotle said, “A good style must, first of all, be clear. It must be appropriate”. And check twice, or even three times, for grammar mistakes because “Grammar can govern even kings” (Moliere). Also, “For a man to write well, there are required three necessaries: to read the best authors, observe the best speakers and much exercise of his own style” (Ben Jonson).

Happy copywriting!

But if it is not your cup of tea, ask professionals!

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