A Business Naming Lesson From the School Yard

Quite often, parents name a child without considering the consequences.

My personal example: my parents, being of Dutch decent, named me Martin It was my grandfather’s name. Plus it meant “warlike” and came from the root, Mars.

So almost immediately upon entering grade school, the recess bullies began calling me “Fartin’ Martin”.

I hated my name. And once I got to high school, students and teachers alike wanted to shorten Martin to Marty. I hated Marty more than I hated Martin. Today, I like Martin very well, but Marty still alienates me.

Be careful what you name your child

And quite often, the name chosen by an entrepreneur will suffer the same fate at the hands of unthinking and uncaring stakeholders.

They’ll mispronounce, misspell and generally mess with it. If there’s a way to make it more “friendly” or informal, they will find it.

You will also note that people will want to shorten your name, particularly if that name contains three multisyllabic words. They’ll do that mostly by resorting to initials. Employees and even executives of companies with a long-worded name will resort to initials internally, and then those initials will begin to be used publically.

The shortening phenomenon is detrimental if you are trying to build a brand around the extended name.

Several companies have just gone with the flow and adopted shorter versions. The most significant and successful at this was Federal Express. They’re now just FedEx – and that works. But some have gone that way and the results, at least from a branding point of view, haven’t faired as well. Remember when Washington Mutual became WaMu?

The moral: Think like a seven-year-old bully

Think how a bully might contort your prized name – the one you’ll invest a pot of money and energy promoting. Think about how people will try to twist the name into a shorter, more irrelevant and irreverent nick name. How will they – including employees – want to make it easier to write or say as time goes by? Then ask others to find ways to mess withr your prime name candidates.

Make this part of your name evaluation checklist. Then perhaps chose a name that’s less likely to be corrupted.

Be Sociable, Share!

One thought on “A Business Naming Lesson From the School Yard

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *