The Power of a Name

January 11, 2022

A curved image with a white background

Just as our own names represent us and our personal brand, a company’s name represents its mission and is the first point of reference a customer or employee has. So, how can a company reinforce its brand? Daryl Risinger walks us through this question and shares some of his favorite company names. Daryl’s nearly 30-year health care career has included Fortune 50 and start-up organizations. He recently co-founded Soda Health, a company with a pretty unique name itself.

 

 

First things first, why is a company name important?

A company name is more than a corporate identity. It creates the framework and boundaries of the image that you want to project to potential customers. If done well, the company name itself can serve as a promotional voice, creating tangible marketing value.

We live in a hyper-charged media and communications environment. I saw a stat recently that we, as consumers, see nearly 4,000 ads every day. You are competing against every brand in every category for retention and recall- not solely your competitors.

If done well, the company name itself can serve as a promotional voice, creating tangible marketing value.

What factors should a company consider when thinking of potential names?

Some factors are more obvious than others. Some of the questions I’d ask of myself and a marketing organization include:

  • Does the name tell a story?
  • Can the name be easily pronounced?
  • Are there existing trademark obstacles?
  • Are there companies with similar names (either within or outside your industry) which might cause confusion?
  • Can the company name support an expansion of the goods/ services you will sell?
  • If you’re going to sell internationally, does the name when translated have negative connotation?

Is there a company name that stands out to you?

 Tesla is an excellent example of corporate identity that ties seamlessly to both its products and its brand. Its homage to Alexander Tesla perfectly articulates its mission in existing product while allowing for expansion from automotive into other alternative energy products such as solar panels.

For existing companies, when should a name change be considered?

The most common reasons for rebranding include corporate mergers and acquisitions or significant change in strategic focus. In some cases, it can renew or reinvigorate an aging brand. Some great examples:

  • Restoration Hardware–RH
  • Domino’s Pizza–Domino’s
  • Weight Watchers–WW
  • Facebook, Inc.–Meta

What is your most important lesson learned along the way?

Be more strategic than you think is necessary. Tesla may not have originally included solar panels in their product roadmap, but the name provides logical space for adding products using alternative energy.

Be more strategic than you think is necessary.

What made you select Soda Health as a name?

In our case, we were building capabilities to meet very specific needs within the healthcare industry. Until our formation, health plans turned primarily to organizations with highly transactional business models. In contrast, Soda Health is transforming how health plans are administering supplemental benefits, bringing solutions which create longitudinal, personalized relationships. At our core, we believe eliminating health inequities will improve health. Beginning with social determinants of health (SDOH) to deliver more relevant, personalized benefits, we can go beyond basic benefits administration.

Incorporating our health care and SDOH focus into our name could pay off in several ways. After developing several concepts, the phonetic pronunciation of the SDOH acronym became the obvious choice. The name is both provocative (you don’t often see Soda associated with health) and reinforces our health care focus.

The name is both provocative (you don’t often see Soda associated with health) and reinforces our health care focus.

The name has been more successful than we imagined. While memorable for our current and prospective customers, it has become a novel conversation-starter in the most unlikely places. When one of our founders arrived for a dental appointment, one of the first questions the staff asked was “what does Soda Health do?”  With a slight smile, he shared our story.