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Company and the No-Name Trap

by DW Green — December 28, 2009

In the marketing classic Positioning, authors Al Ries and Jack Trout, probably the world’s best-known marketing strategists wrote that it is unwise to use initials for a company name. They have coined the practice the “no-name trap”. While there are successful exceptions to the initial rule, Ries and Trout warn against using the letter “w”. As “dou-ble-U” is the only letter in alphabet with more than one syllable. Unfortunately I didn’t read the book until after I had named my company…unknowingly falling into the “no-name trap!”

I named my company DW Green after myself. It is easy for me to remember and I wanted to honor my parents. Neither is named DW, though DW is my father’s initials. Ries and Trout might still approve because DW Green is only 5 syllables long! And green is a popular word now.

When I incorporated DW Green, way back in 1988, my choices from Alaska’s Corporation Commission were Corporation, Inc., or Company. I selected company because of its many positive connotations:

  • a number of individuals assembled or associated together; group of people.
  • a guest or guests: We’re having company for dinner.
  • an assemblage of persons for social purposes.
  • companionship; fellowship; association: I always enjoy her company.
  • one’s usual companions
  • society collectively.
  • a number of persons united or incorporated for joint action, esp. for business: a publishing company; a dance company.

Our official, legal business name is DW Green Company Inc. The word company is warm and represents relationships. The word corporation is tepid and represents an entity.

What’s In A Name?

As my Dad tells the story, his best friend in WWII was named JC. JC was from Texas. They went through boot camp together and fought side by side in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Normandy. Towards the end of the war, Dad and JC fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Sadly JC was killed. My dad made a battlefield vow that if he survived the war he would name his next born son DW (my Dad’s initials) in honor of his good friend JC. So my legal name is DW Green. Incidentally, the name on my draft card was DW(IO) Green. IO initials only!

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One Response to “Company and the No-Name Trap”

  1. Melissa says:

    DW,

    Great blog post! I love the story about how you got your name.

    While I admit to never reading (or even hearing of the book) you mention above, I respectfully disagree with marketing gurus Ries and Trout about the use of initials, especially the 3-syllabled “W.”

    Seems “WWW” has caught on quite well, despite its 9 syllable ramble. :-)

    DW Green Company is a brilliant name for a variety of reasons. “DW” has a nice “ring” to it (not to mention a touch of mystery, which is always good); being “Green” is very cool right now; and not only does “Company” describe everything you mentioned above, it also suggests a “troupe” which I think your business represents perfectly. You are a bit theatrical, DW (in a good way), and the “troupe” you’ve assembled is full of fine performers!

    It’s perfect!

    Melissa

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