5 ways to name your company

A company’s name matters. It can tell customers something about what an organisation does, or the values it wants to project. Or it can simply be a device to stick in the mind. Last week, one of the team asked me how I came up with ‘Copylab’. It started me thinking about the asset-management industry and how companies come up with their monikers.

Location, location, location

Take a look out of the window. What do you see? Great – there’s your new name. That works well if you’re near the Bank of England and can therefore call yourself Threadneedle. Or perhaps you’re based somewhere unusual (in asset-management terms) like Aberdeen. Perhaps not, if you’re setting up an asset-management firm on a street that’s clearly been named by someone in the planning department who’s on his last day in the job. No-one wants to invest with Psycho Asset Managers (though some of us probably have, unwittingly).


Mind how you go

Proprietor: R Hunter, Esq.

Another simple naming convention is to take the name of the company’s founder. Think of T Rowe Price. Or JP Morgan. Or, more recently, Woodford Funds. But before you get all sniffy about egotism, companies will go down this route for a good reason – because there’s immense brand value inherent in those names. The recent fund raising by the last is testament to that. One thing, though – if you’re a company that trades globally, be careful how your name translates.


Where Copylab’s sinophile Justin seeks his literary inspiration

When two words collide

This is how Copylab was named. I sat down with a notebook and wrote down a bunch of words relating to ‘writing’, and some words relating to ‘places where work gets done’. And hey presto, several gins later, Copy Lab was born (and recently smoothed to just plain old Copylab).

While Copylab has some vague meaning behind it, there are plenty of other names that seem more random. Still, they work, because they trip off the tongue. Think of the rhythm of BlackRock, PineBridge, BlueBay, FourWinds.


Clever idea, but likely to be sued.

Myths and legends. And famous people.

There is a genre of asset managers that uses historical figures in its names, both real and mythological. We’re thinking of the likes of Newton or Janus.

Why do this? On the face of it, this approach may seem to the untrained eye to be snobbish or inaccessible. But wait, dear reader. These clever people are trying to make a sophisticated and subtle point. Isaac Newton made a fabulous discovery through serious contemplation and reflection – surely a perfect trait for a fund manager. And legend has it that Janus was able to look both forwards and backwards, which for an investment manager seems a reasonable thing to accomplish.

Others in this group include Troy, Artemis and Hermes. And good news: a rudimentary search of Companies House finds that both Oedipus Asset Managers and Narcissus Capital are both still available.

Off the wall

And lastly, there are the names that, on the face of it at least, seem to have no significance to the investment industry – or indeed anything really. I’m thinking of Ignis, Natixis, Majedie and Unicorn. All fine companies, I’m quite sure. But their names prompt the question – why? Did the branding agency get the final say?


Why? Just… why?!

And the winner is…

The winner of Copylab’s fund manager name of the year award, however, goes to Truffle Asset Management. Despite the exotic name, this South African asset manager actually sells focused investment products – though not, for the sake of clarity, the scarce fungus sniffed out by truffle hogs in French oak forests and grated over pasta by overbearing waiters.

Think you can do better? Share with us your favourite weird company name. Or try the random company name generator and see what you can come up with.

Ross Hunter

16 September 2014