What’s in a name?

How important are names, really? When it comes to business, a great name can make the difference between success and failure. 

Richard Branson and Virgin branding

We’ve certainly found that to be the case at Virgin, a brand name known the world over. But we were almost called something else entirely.

When we were debating what to call our music company, we were just a bunch of teenagers sat around a room joking around. The leading contender for the name was Slipped Disc. Slipped Disc Records – it has a certain ring to it and fit with our edgy new label. But how would we have grown that brand from music into all sorts of different areas? Slipped Disc Airlines – now, that’s not so good!

Thankfully, because we were all virgins in business, we chose the name Virgin and never looked back. The brand has been able to grow into hundreds of companies in multiple sectors around the world. That’s not down to the name, it’s down to a lot of people’s extraordinary hard work – but the name has certainly helped.

This logic doesn’t just apply to businesses though. Another area where your brand name is vital is entertainment. Think of your favourite singer – they may well be using a name they have chosen for themselves. The masters of transformation, from David Bowie to Madonna, often change characters and refresh their brand regularly.

 

I recently met a guy called Marshall Sylver and his son, Sterling. That's quite the name, Sterling Sylver! “One day, you’ll thank me for that name,” his father had assured him. I could see his point. The name will certainly stand out, and if he decides to go into business, into public life, into all sorts of fields, his name will get noticed.

Of course, that is only the start. A noticeable name has to be backed up with talent, drive, persistence, great ideas and a brilliant team.

As Shakespeare wrote: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." But it wouldn’t necessarily sell as well in the florists!

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