Bad Advice: Company Names

When you are starting a business and go to events, people are always trying to either sell you or give you advice. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve gotten a lot of good advice and have applied it considerably. But recently I received advice that just doesn’t reconcile with my business. The advice was on the name of my company. The guy I talked to challenged me on my company name. It’s not the challenge that made the conversation unproductive for strategic planning. Rather, it was the premises.

 

I started a company called EcoEats, Inc. Starting out, it is a small batch jerky producer crafting unique flavors using exotic meats. The guy I met basically said that the name needed to communicate what I do. This is fine advice to be taken in the most literal fashion in say a contracting service. If I start a roofing company, I know for a fact the company name must involve exterior remodeling. But food is a different animal. What the hell does the name Tyson have to do with chicken? Who told Milton Hershey that his last name was a good name for a confection maker? Is Utz really a good name for potato chips? Yeah, some of these are named after the founder but the real point is that people grow accustomed to names over time.

 

Take Twitter. What does the word twitter have to do with microblogging. If someone had told you about creating a microblogging platform and how they were going to name it “Twitter”, wouldn’t you question that decision. In case you didn’t know, twitter is an archaic word having to do with birds making it a fitting name for the bird themed website. You tweet to post, click on the bird house to go to your feed, and your profile pic starts out as an egg. Twitter has a consistent theme with its name, but by no means is that the cause of their success. You could find tons of cleverly themed social media websites or tech companies that have pennies worth of success. The success of Twitter has little to do with the name and more to do with executing a strategy and building a brand.

 

If my company can execute its brand strategy, I too will see success. But I’m not going to create a new brand for every meat I use. That’s expensive and inconsistent. I also don’t want a regional name, which he sort of floated. And lastly, I don’t want to name it after myself. Not everyone understands the brand you want or need to build. My goal is not to be a novelty. My goal is to be a powerhouse. And for now, there is no better name.

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