The Company Name Game
Business names have always intrigued me. Sometimes, I’ll see one that’s so complicated or confusing that I want to stop in just to ask them how they decided on it.
It makes sense to say what you do or have in your company title. For example, most nail salons will have nails or manicure in the title. Logical. My Dad’s company was called Galaxy of West Lincoln. We were used to it and knew that it started as an offshoot of a company called Galaxy Pallets. Dad was partners in the pallet company and then struck out on his own. The pallet company’s name explained what they made but Galaxy of West Lincoln? Not a clue for the uninitiated.
As a former CNR employee, Dad had lots of contacts at the railroad and GoWL took up no-longer-useful tracks and all that went with them. I don’t know why he didn’t use the terms “railroad salvage” or something other than the physical location of the company in the name. I never thought to ask. The company colour was orange. I learned to parallel park in an orange crew-cab pick-up.
Over the holidays I indulged in some online shopping. I happened upon The Shopping Channel’s website and was intrigued enough to buy a couple of things by a company called Preloved. They started with a boutique on Queen Street West in Toronto and now they’re all over the world. But when I first saw the name I thought, TSC sells previously worn clothing? Preloved – isn’t that what it means? Once you know them better, the name makes sense. They use vintage pieces and fabric overruns to make new designs. Still, the first impression was confusion.
Being too clever with a made-up name is a risk. For every Zulilly and Lululemon that becomes an identifiable brand there is a confounding decision such as Phartronics Engineering. Do you remember Ayds? They were appetite suppressant candies that tasted like flavoured caramels. They folded in the era of AIDS, for obvious reasons.
Every day on my way home I pass by a restaurant called Shawarmizza and I think, now there’s a smart name. They serve shawarma and pizza. But sometimes the obvious gets missed, as comic Brian Regan explains so well.