What’s in a name? A LOT!!

Last updated on Sep 4, 2011

Posted on Sep 4, 2011

When you are starting off your business venture, one of the first thing you need to do is to have a name of the company or organization.  The exercise is sometime excrutiating in the way it taxes your mind, if you doing it with some sense.  There are many ways to come up with a name:

  1. No meaning, Sounds Cute School: This school comes up with names like Zoosk, Zoho etc.  They don’t seem to have much meaning in the words themselves but they are cute.
  2. Phrases which can be abbreviated School: International Business Machine (IBM) is one of them.  Just words which denote the work you are in form the long phrased name of your organization.  This is a genre which isn’t very popular now.
  3. Combination words School: Infosys (Information Systems) and Accenture (Accent + venture) are two of the popular names.
  4. Names of the Owners School: This is where the owners would like to leave a legacy behind of their names.  PriceWaterhouseCoopers, McKinsey, Tatas and Honda are all of that same genre.  They show the ego of the owners.
  5. Meaning names School: Vedanta Mining is one of those.

Now there have been a lot of bloopers in the name formation over the years.

I still remember when I was working with PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting and they wanted to spin it off from the wider PWC.  A new name was chosen for the organization after millons of dollars of research.  And the name was… .MONDAY.  Yes, the first day of the week.  One can only imagine the plight of someone calling that company on, say a Friday.

“Ma’am, Is it Monday?” .. “No sir, its Friday today”.

Thank God for us that IBM bought the organization and we all were saved the ignominy of being called Monday!

Then, there is my personal story of how I went about deciding the name of my own company.  I sat down with the Sanskrit dictionary open and came up with words I wanted to associate with my work.  One of the word was “Consciousness”.  The Sanskrit word I got was Chetus pronounced Che + Tuss, where Tuss is pronounced as Fuss.  I was mighily pleased with my effort, and immediately incorporated it.

Well, I got everything at home – the papers and all, and I had a question.  So I called the Texas Secy of State office.  The guy asked me my name and the information and then he came to my organization’s name and pronounced it “Cheat-Us” and then remarked “Huh!  Strange name”.  Cheat Us.  Damn!  Is that what my organization will be known as?  I obviously cannot go very far with that kind of name, can I?  The call soon became a discussion on how to get the name changed, like RIGHT AWAY!!

And then I came across this Computer training institute’s name recently.  Quite obviously the founders had no knowledge of Hindi or had ever been in North India.  The abbreviation of the name of this organization means “Excreta” in Hindi.  If the founder had any goal of creatiing franchises in other states than Tamil Nadu, then he surely started off on the wrong foot!

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