What do Google, GEICO and Wealthfront have in common?


An outside-the-box approach to company name selection

Apparently, it is name changing season. Over the last year, name changes have been one of the more popular services being requested by AdvisorPR. For some, it’s due to a merger of two competing firms coming together as one. For others, it’s a proactive play to go independent from a captive situation. Another was a break-up of a partnership. And another was an addition of a partner to the firm comprised of the other owners’ namesake. And still others, it’s a name change to be more relevant with their core offerings and niche served. For whatever reason you may be contemplating a name change, there is one thing in common. Everyone wants that ever-elusive .com URL name.

There are only so many names to go around on the world wide web. While the typical approaches for name selection are still strong choices for your new, growing or evolving financial planning firm, relevant, correlating URLs are growing scarce.

In years past, some of the more typical strategies for name selection included inspirations based on:

  • A strong symbolic icon, such as cornerstone or new horizon
  • An owner’s last name, such as Jones Financial Services
  • A regional or location-based name, such as Superior Lakes or Golden Gate
  • The solution or results of your services, such as secure retirement or diversified investment

Now, many of these options are simply taken, and their iterations, leaving very few available names with relevant URLs.

Items to Check Before Securing a New Company Name

The name you select for your service-based business should be available, ownable and relevant to the times. Should you be lucky enough to select a name that meets these criteria, based on the traditional naming conventions above, and with an available URL, congratulations! But, you’re not done yet. There is still a little more checking to do.

First, you want to be sure someone hasn’t abandoned the name due to bad business practices; you don’t want to inadvertently take on any of their old baggage. A Google search with various name iterations would be important (i.e., Golden Gate Retirement, Golden Gate Investments, Golden Gate Wealth Management, Golden Gate Financial Planning,etc.) Similar names to your preferred iterations are ok, but make sure there isn’t anything negative associated with any of them. Then, check the name in its exact form against the USPTO trademark database, or TESS, the trademark electronic search system.

If it all looks good, then you’re good to go! You’ve got a name. However, it’s important to note that this is not the typical outcome of the new name selection process these days. If you run into a dead-end and are stuck trying to find a new name, consider these naming strategies.

The I’s and E’s have it.

It started as a way to shorten “internet” or “electronic” during the .com boom. The dawning of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, and the emergence of companies and technologies like E*TRADE, eBay and the daily use of email, merging two words and shortening one or both of them is a naming strategy more than 20 years in the making. And the popularity of this approach is ginormous.

Simply take two words and put them together in a way that hasn’t been used before. It’s no different than a compound word from your elementary days.

  • Cross Walk
  • Big Foot
  • Tie Die
  • Wealth Front
  • SoFi
  • Bankrate
  • Ellevest

This is a great naming strategy when in search of the elusive .com URLs. Your imagination is the only limit. 

A descriptive term of your product line.

Google is a creative spelling for Googol, a mathematical term used to express 10100. It’s a way to quantify a large number, or in the example of the search engine, a large amount of information. Despite what many think, there is nothing made up about this word. It’s a descriptive term.

Basecamp was a product offered by a company, 37 Signals. Basecamp is a project management platform widely popular in the creative services space. Everyone had heard of Basecamp. No one had heard of its parent company 37 Signals. The company eventually dropped the parent name and became “Basecamp.” You may as well listen to your customers.  SimplySafe alarm system is another example; it’s a new way to describe the benefit of their product. Consider your product, process or services – what’s a new or abstract way to describe a step, outcome or benefit of what you do?

Shorten it up.

Despite what several advisors have said to me in conversation over the years, GEICO is NOT a made-up term to closely match its mascot, the Gecko. It’s an acronym. Government Employees Insurance Company. The company was initially established to… provide insurance to government employees. It’s since expanded its target audience and shortened its name. Think of acronyms that spell something unique and reflective of the experience you provide. Do you provide a F.R.E.S.H. perspective in your financial, retirement, estate planning, Social Security and healthcare planning practice? Consider an aspect of your business that you can shorten up to an easy-to-remember acronym.

When in doubt, call in the experts. Branding is one of AdvisorPR’s signature service offerings. We can help you find the perfect name to stand out from the crowd, too.

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