Company Names that Didn’t Make the Cut – And Why

Did you know that in 1996, Google started out as a search engine called BackRub? In 2007, Steve Jobs announced that Apple Computers would thereafter be known as Apple. Nike was once Blue Ribbon Sports, and Yahoo! started as Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web.
Nate Dame
Nate Dame
CEO and Founder
Nate is the founder and CEO of Profound Strategy, a results-oriented SEO consultancy trusted by forward-thinking companies, including a few of the world's largest B2B and technology brands. Profound Strategy builds holistic SEO strategies, supports internal teams, and offers full-service execution to create an organic search presence that generates significant revenue.
September 10, 2014

Did you know that in 1996, Google started out as a search engine called BackRub? (What if they had never changed their name? Can you imagine saying “just BackRub it” instead of “just Google it”?) In 2007, Steve Jobs announced that Apple Computers would thereafter be known as Apple. Nike was once Blue Ribbon Sports, and Yahoo! started as Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web. Similarly historic (okay, maybe not) – SEOperks officially relaunched as Profound Strategy earlier this month. The decision to rebrand was a year in the making, but choosing a name for your company is a hard thing. Our team pursued new names for about eight months. No less than ten (and sometimes more) marketers brainstorming in different settings and groups eventually ended up with 16, single-spaced pages of names, words, and concepts to play with. That’s a lot of inspiration to sort through, but one thing my team has learned over the last four years is how to ask the right questions.  

Hot Dog Digital (Does It Speak To Our Market?)

Hot Dog DigitalIt’s amazing what a group of professional, experienced marketers can come up with when they put their heads together. We knew we wanted something that would land where “creative and unique” met “professional and trustworthy.” We wanted to inspire ingenuity and qualify confidence. Admittedly, it’s a small target to hit. Good marketing requires learning from your audience, so that’s what we did. We submitted our first round of ideas to a small group of friends, and one response caught me by surprise:

“You sound like a bunch of kids.”

Our team was digging deep to come up with fun, creative names, but we quickly realized that we’re not trying to appeal to other marketers. Our audience is the goal-oriented business owner and executive, so we needed to reign it in and make sure that we were talking to the right market.  

Hipster SEO (Is It Unique?)

Hipster SEOEvery word, term, or phrase that refers to marketing ideas like attracting, drawing, meeting, grabbing, entertaining, enticing, etc. has already been mutated into a dozen names in the marketplace. We wanted something unique, obviously, but coming up with a totally new name in the marketing world – let alone the internet in general – turned out to be harder that we thought. Quick Google searches (“BackRubs?” Ya – name changes are sometimes good.) ruled out more than a few potential winners. This is about the time we started clicking the button on the Agency Name Generator – but just once or twice, and just for a laugh. I promise.  

ShadyPerks (Is the Name Available and Unclaimed?)

shadyperksOur catalogue of inspiration was thinning, but this part of the process is what drove us to a tabula rasa strategy (and back to the Agency Name Generator a couple more times). We still had several names we felt strongly about, but the domain and/or social media names were not available. Actually, the domain for one of our favorites (not Shady Perks) had already been snatched up by a squatter who wouldn’t even accept an inquiry unless we were willing to discuss a minimum of $10,000! Back to the drawing board. I wiped it clean and started over. That’s when I stumbled on pertraho, which is Latin for allure, and played with it a little to get propecta. It tested well in some first-round inquiries, and got a lot of good feedback from our target market. I was told it sounds both creative and professional, and that’s exactly what we needed.  

Searchtacular (Can You Spell It?)

SearchtacularNow that we had a brand new word, however, we had a new set of questions that needed answering. Could people spell it if they heard it spoken? Could they pronounce it if they saw it in print? I tested it on everyone I talked to for weeks (which never, ever got annoying). About 80 to 90% spelled it right the first time, and just about everyone pronounced it right after reading it. That told me that even though Profound Strategy was completely unique, it wasn’t confusing.


Define Your Terms

Every word has at least one definition, so it stands that if you make up a new word you need to define it. Our team is excited to do that. I’m glad that we went back to a blank slate – that we came up with something completely new instead of just arranging marketing words on a page. In that way, our new name speaks volumes about who we are and what we do.   A few more concepts that didn’t quite hit the mark for your enjoyment… Sandwich Board Marketing                          Dog Sled digital

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