What’s In A Name?

August 21, 2018

What’s in a name? Your name tells a story of who you are as a person or a business. This is why people labor over the decision of a name. It sets the stage for expectations from day one, usually through association with something meaningful by your family, friends and customers.

All in the Family

When I think of strong names in the building products industry, Andersen, Marvin and Kohler immediately come to mind due to their association with the founding families and their commitment to quality, integrity and promotion. All three of these names have been built over time with significant investments to make them synonymous with their products and their reputation. A recent brand study we completed for a competitor of one of these names found the brand name so strong the dealers were willing or required to overlook the shortcomings of the business because of the strength of the name with their customers.

Not Just A Nickname

One of my all time favorite company names is Big Ass Fans. Can you guess what they manufacture? Is their name memorable? Folklore has it the company name came about when a customer referred to these large barn fans as “big ass fans.” The owner embraced the nickname and then some. The company mascot is a donkey. The company supports a local donkey farm. They have some of the most fun merchandise in the industry. As a matter of fact, it is so popular they have an online store for shirts, hats and other brand goods. Not everyone likes the name as they find the word “ass” offensive. Big Ass Fans embraces the negative feedback in their promotions sharing the comments they receive from others. Big Ass Fans is memorable and describes their products perfectly.


More Than A Coincidence

At the time I was preparing to launch my agency, Draper DNA, Mad Men and Don Draper were all the rage. Every time I introduced myself I was asked, “ are your related to Don Draper?” The association with the popular TV character (without the smoking, drinking and philandering) is fun and makes for an easy introduction. The fact is the construction industry and sales and marketing are a part of my DNA (three generations in both industries).

Names Are Powerful

The name you choose for your business can also have negative associations. At a time when the country is rightfully sensitive about the mass shootings at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando and Las Vegas naming your service business Ammunition and positioning it with as a “weapon” seems disconnected, at best, and certainly insensitive. Imagine associating your reputation with a business that chose this name and all that it stands for today. This seems risky and unnecessary.

So Now What?

When considering your business name, ask if it is unique, meaningful, relatable and memorable to your customers and you. Choosing a name for your business is fun, challenging, exciting and difficult. Take your time. It is who you are and who you want to be.

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