I ran across a great article by in INC on the importance of getting a company name just right. In it, author Adam Fridman puts forth a very strong premise: Your company name plays a monumental role in a brand’s growth and perception, meaning it can completely make or break a company. He outlines the three things required of a company name:
1) As the first thing customers see, it’s that all important first impression.
2) It sums up everything a company is about.
3) It presents your company’s unique take on an industry.
I liked Mr. Fridman’s advice. So I took it.
As a brand consultant who consults with startups in a wide range of industries, I think Mr. Fridman is spot on. A company name is that stake in the sand that says who and what you are. Some companies truly get this. Uber Eats gets it. A great company name tells the story with little explanation. Airbnb tells its story. A good company name can be made stronger with a short position line. Walmart – Save money. Live better. A bad company name misses the mark altogether.
Take my own company. For 24 years, I operated as Lux + Associates, which was a common way to name professional services firms in the mid 90’s. In 2019, the name was flat and *yawn* boring. It said nothing about who I am or what I do. So I pivoted to a new name, Lux-Writes. It doesn’t take a lot of explanation. It’s memorable. And it’s me.
Some startups are really good at creating a great name on their own. Such is the case of PaizaBio, a contract manufacturer of biologic and biosimilar injectable drugs. What makes it a great name is their niche: manufacturing drugs in China for global pharmaceutical companies unfamiliar with doing business in China, a notoriously difficult business environment. The client came to me with the name and back story: centuries ago when Marco Polo, a Venetian trader, went to China, it was a difficult place in which to do business. (Sound familiar?) There he met Emperor Kublai Khan, grandson of Ghenghis Khan. The emperor took a liking to Marco and presented him with a golden paiza, which allowed him to safely do business across China. The paiza became Marco’s key to great riches.
The mission of PaizaBio is to do the same for global pharmaceutical companies in modern China: work with us and we’ll safely guide you through this complicated marketplace. This name, though more erudite, accomplished the goal of greatness. I wrote a blog about it when the company launched three years ago. Read it here.
Reinforcing the China connection was a major part of our ongoing branding, which include a logo with a stylized paiza, paiza-shaped chocolate bars we handed out at a global pharmaceutical show in Spain and business cards with Chinese imagery. They are very cool.
Sometimes it pays to get professional help when naming your startup. I spoke with an entrepreneur in New Mexico who had technology to do gene sequencing tests on horses, much like 23andMe. He needed a website. I asked for the company name. He gave me something very generic a potential customer would never understand. When I suggested we start our engagement by finding a new name, he was open to the idea. The new Lux name? EquiSeq. The company is now providing its tests to the Thoroughbred racing and performance horse industries, markets that immediately get what EquiSeq does.
Then there are startups that hit the naming ball out of the park on their own. Such is the case of Indiana-based WorkHere, the first geofenced, hyperlocal candidate delivery platform that supports both job seekers and employers. To me, the name kills it, addressing the fact that most people prefer to work close to where they live. For employers, the name states exactly what they need: people to work here. The fact that WorkHere’s customer list includes Uber, Carvana, Fedex Ground, and Sodexo is a testament to the clarity of message delivered by their name. Bravo to founders Howard Bates, Mike Seidle and Rick Wehrle for a job well done.
Bottom line, your corporate identification is more than a name. It’s who you are, what you do, your brand promise to customers. Invest the time and money to create a name that sets you up for success. Lux-Writes is happy to help.