Insurance from a Fruit: The Pitfall of Trendy Company Names

This email originally appeared in the May 30th edition of The Scribble, KYC's bi-weekly marketing newsletter. You can subscribe to The Scribble at the top of this page.

I’ve noticed something recently that has had me thinking about company perception quite a bit. If you’ve read any of my previous Scribble articles or blog posts, then it should come as no surprise that I enjoy diving deeper into the psychological and emotional connections of marketing.

For awhile now, a lot of companies, particularly startups, have been jumping on the bandwagon of trendy, nonsensical names. If you read my blog post a few months back, you’ll recall how I discussed the movement many companies are taking to symbol branding.

But this isn’t symbol branding, it is aligning a seemingly random word with a product or service that does not match up -- like trying to fit the corner piece of a puzzle in the center, it won’t fit, and the picture looks strange in the end.

Company names can fall under multiple categories, from using an uncommon word to making a word up, to taking on an animal’s name. But the latest trend I’ve seen is naming a company after a fruit or beverage (such as Mango Life, a life and retirement insurance intermediary), when the product or service sold has nothing to do with either.

Perhaps the rise of these nondescript names lies in trying to reach a younger market; however, trends do not last forever, which is why your company should not be built upon one. A company name can certainly be the name of an animal, uncommon word, or a made up word - but the name of your organization should be representative of your products and mission.

Nike is a great example of utilizing a name that embodies its product and culture. The name of the infamous “swoosh” belongs to the ancient Greek goddess of victory, Nike. For an athletic wear company, the name is perfect and holds no confusion for the consumer.

Innovative, eye-catching company names have their place -- and organizations built upon names that do not represent their products can be built with success, but it is all in knowing who your customers are, your market, and your story.

Before branding everything in your organization with the name of an object, food, or animal, ask yourself 1) Who are your customers and why do they work with you? 2) What is your company’s mission statement? Why did you go into this industry? 3) Will the name of your company cause confusion among your customers? If so, it may be best to avoid selecting something popular at the time.

A name carries a lot of weight. Be sure your organization’s identity is built on a solid foundation.