What’s in a name ?
For an entrepreneur, choosing a company name can be a very daunting endeavour. It is the first impression anyone will have of the company’s brand, ethos and the goods or services it provides.
If it is too difficult to spell or pronounce, or it is too generic or quirky, for example, it likely will not resonate with potential customers. If it is done right, though, an effective name can prove to be a very powerful tool, allowing a company to build a connection with customers and stand out from its competitors.
Needless to say, naming a business takes a lot of consideration. When Google reorganised into a holding company called Alphabet in August last year, it sparked a lot of opinions on its choice for the new name. Some said it was unimaginative and boring. Others said it was brilliant and ticked all the right boxes in branding.
Google co-founder Larry Page said: “We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! … We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!”
Be it a technology giant known around the world or a fledgling homegrown enterprise, there is often a story behind its name.
Here’s how 10 Singapore startups came up with their names.
The Carousell name was inspired by Don Draper’s story about the Kodak slide projector in Mad Men. His description of a device that goes backwards, forwards, and tells the story of lives on little rotating slides powered by technology, helped Carousell visualise its hopes for the company. In their minds, Carousell could become a community for people to share new and old things, and the stories behind them. As these things passed from one owner to the next, the shared experiences could bring them together as a community as well.
In 2012, the founders of the company started off by playing with different words that related to people, crowds and liking something. Earlier incarnations included Peoplesugar, Crowdify, Peoplelike and Crowdlike. One day, co-founder Vincent Ha suggested “Gush” — as in gushing about something. As the word “Cloud” was popular back in 2012, the two words “Gush” and “Cloud” were put together to form Gushcloud, a digital network of influencers talking about brands they like.
The name Pulse was founded on the premise of a bygone musical genre of the ’90s called trip-hop. One of the founders, Mr Ernie Lim, was listening to Massive Attack’s Teardrops one night. As the rhythmic throbbing beat pulses behind the background, the whole concept and narrative of the brand image started falling into place. The hauntingly dark and private mood of the song inspired him to build the style of the company around it — from how the brand looks, behaves and even dictates the line of cakes they offer.
Co-founders Vikram Rupani and Roger Egan wanted a short name with a reference to both shopping and a colour, as they thought this would make the name easier to remember. They shortlisted “yellowstore”, “greenmarket” and “redmart” as potential options, but decided to go with RedMart in the end as they thought the colour red would bring them good luck.
The founders wanted a name that represented the core product that Xfers offered, which is bank transfer as a form of payment. Some earlier ideas that came up included “quorow”, “wirenom”, “quirel”, “zopay”, “furipay”, and “quiki”. They almost settled for zopay, until one of co-founder Victor Liew’s friends said “hey can you xfers me S$10 for dinner”.
Zalora as a name pays homage to Rocket Internet’s first fashion e-commerce site by retaining the first three letters of Zalando. Following the success of Zalando, Rocket Internet’s first online fashion e-commerce site, Rocket Internet saw an opportunity to replicate this feat in South-east Asia, a region with no major online fashion player and a population of 600 million people. The team checked available domain names in the markets Zalora planned to operate in and discovered that the name Zalora was available.
The name Glints was born during a brainstorming session on a train ride. It is short-form for “Global Internships”, the first product the company started with. Glints also means flashes of light, and paints the story of the company’s vision in a word — helping youths shine in their careers.
Garena is a play on the words “global arena” and refers to founder Forrest Li’s broader aspiration to connect people using technology. With a mission to “connect the dots” in the region, Garena says, its business verticals were developed with the goal of enhancing users’ lives.
Co-founder Joel Sng wanted to build a business that customers trusted and where the team would be as hardworking as bees. As bees are very adaptable to changes thus increasing their rate of survival — a trait Mr Sng wanted his team members to have — the company was named honestbee.
The founders of the company wanted a name that was indicative of smart design, unique experience and security. The igloo came to mind — a uniquely crafted Inuit home, which has an intelligent design that allows it to stand strong against harsh winter conditions. It gives the impression of safety and protection, and what the company says its smart access solutions are created for.