3 Rules for Naming Companies

"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet."
–From Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Shakespeare was obviously not a technology marketer. I would argue that names do matter and that the name sets the tone for a company and its products. Would Apple be Apple if it were named "American Personal Computer Corporation" — No. The company might have been larger (boring company name exhibit A — IBM) or more profitable (boring company name exhibit B — Microsoft) but not have the same spunk and creativity that we have come to enjoy and expect from them

So, thinking of naming a company? Here are some simple rules:

  1. Give it a personality.
    The great challenge in marketing technology is putting a personality on what you do. Some how "Distributed Computing of Large Scale Crawling Projects" or DCLSCP wouldn’t be nearly as compelling as the name Google, although the name probably more accurately describes the founders’ original intentions. Bronto Software is named after a distinguishable thing, which helps us immensely in establishing a brand around a set of web services. Red Hat, named after a lacrosse’s cap of one of its founders, followed similar thinking and out branded their competitors with faceless names like Caldera, TurboLinux and Suse.
  2. Avoid initials
    Too often I see companies that decide to name themselves after the initials of their founders. This tends to more common in small consulting services. Avoid this temptation. Although self-flattering and cool for about 30 seconds, you’ll be wasting a perfect branding opportunity — refer to rule #1.
  3. Include what you do
    Insert the company’s function into the name, especially when you are just launching the business. I know that the rave in the Internet space is to think of something clever like Yahoo or Google but, in general, I prefer company names that spell out the function a little more clearly. Is this contradictory to #1 and #2? Doesn’t have to be. For example, Bronto Software started off BrontoMail. Only later did we switch it to have broader scope. Earlier on, it is easier to land sales and market with a self-descriptor in the name. Plus, if the business takes off, then you can name it whatever you like and not worry about naming suggestions in blogs such as these.

The rules and thoughts about naming may vary but one truth remains — naming matters.


Put the marketing into email marketing

Email marketing is very effective when done right. The problem is that too often it is done wrong and people end getting frustrated with their service versus identifying the real issue — sending emails is one thing. Doing effective marketing is entirely different.

Email marketing services like Bronto are fairly easy to use and very powerful for communicating with large audiences. However, easy and powerful doesn’t necessarily make it effective — that’s where good ole’ fashion marketing principles come in:

1. Know your audience

2. Personalize and tailor your message

3. Target accurately

4. Test, iterate, and test again

These things determine whether email marketing works or not — much more than high delivery rates to AOL or the latest viral marketing widget in the message’s footer. Perhaps not as cool but effective nevertheless.

Bronto provides incredible rocket fuel in the form of great delivery rates, reporting tools and list management. But, at the end of day, if the rocket is pointed the wrong direction, the results are not going to be here. Insightful support and account management teams can help some but, ultimately, they can only do so much when they are not sitting in the driving seat.

What to do? The onus is on email marketing companies to innovate their offerings by deeply interjecting “best practices” and weaving marketing wisdoms into their products. This goes beyond providing comprehensive documentation and tutorials but rather making it very easy for customers to do the right thing and clearly identify when they are veering off track. I haven’t seen any email marketing vendors that do that well. Why? It’s hard. Ask any computer science professor the challenges in coding an artificial intelligence program that comes across somewhat intelligent — not easy to do. More often than not, the computer program mimics a psychopath that jumps from one non sequitor to another.

So, the challenge rests with us and were working on it. Pass on any suggestions that you have on how to do this well — we’re listening! In the meanwhile, get cozy with this article on basic email marketing best practices from Forrester Research. It should tie you over until we innovate something brillant.