Everyone loves a good story. We tell stories to soothe our children to sleep, to relax with a movie on a Saturday night, to connect with friends over a beer. In business, something as basic as what you name your company should tell a story too.
To illustrate, let me tell you my story.
About 10 years ago, I had a dream that a friend who farmed citrus, cattle and turfgrass sod was telling me that the market had crashed in every commodity where he had invested. But on a lark, he said in the dream, many years ago he’d planted a grove of avocado, and don’t you know avocados are now selling for 10 times more than they ever had before? The thing that saved me, he said, was the thing I overlooked. And I woke up.
I thought about calling my friend and telling him to go plant a grove of avocados. (With the craze over avocados these days, perhaps I should have.) But what I realized was the avocado wasn’t for him. It was for me. The thing I’d overlooked, green industry marketing, was what was going to save me.
When I started What’s Your Avocado? Marketing and Public Relations in 2012, the choice of my company name was strategic. It tells a story that is wrapped around a concept. The concept is that every person, every product and every business has something about them that’s special. I call that unique element Your Avocado. When I work with clients, I help them find their avocado and express it in the marketplace in a way that’s authentic to them and drives sales.
Now, every time I meet someone and tell them my company name, they ask what it means. I tell the story. It’s so memorable that I’ve created a trigger to keep my company in the minds of potential customers. Lots of people have sent me avocado-themed gifts — avocado earrings, beach towels, Christmas tree ornaments — all because of my company name.
Telling a story works. I’ve seen it over and over. When Eric and John Lefebvre were teenagers, they were just two kids with a lawnmower and a lot of determination. Cutting neighbors’ yards eventually grew into a real business that, back in 1988, they named E and J Mowers Lawn Care located in Charlotte County, Florida. That name told a story. Eric and John will mow your lawn. Thirty years later, the brothers are now seasoned professionals with crews that hand-manicure the landscapes of beachfront estates, and the company rarely offers mowing services anymore.
A couple of years ago, Eric and John realized that their company name no longer reflected the scope of their business. The story no longer fit. So, they changed it. E and J Mowers became Green Leaf Solutions, a name that tells a story of a high level of expertise offering a variety of landscaping services. They rebranded with a new logo for their business cards, shirts and trucks, and they launched a website.
The results were immediate. Some folks joked that they must be putting the company up for sale because of the new, fancy image. But most of the reactions were positive, saying they presented a more professional appearance in line with the high-quality work they do. In a tight labor market, the new name and story helped them to recruit more skilled talent.
My firm recently branded a new Bermudagrass for Oklahoma State University and its licensing agent, Sod Production Services. The grass is the most cold-tolerant Bermuda on the market. We wanted the name to reflect the variety’s main attribute but also harken back to its roots at OSU. The name we came up with was Tahoma 31. The number 31 refers to the number used to identify it during a decade of research. Tahoma is a Native American word that sounds like Oklahoma but means “frozen water.” The name tells a story. It conveys a message about the product’s benefits, and it sounds good too.
What does your company name say about you? How can you optimize the story you tell to inform your customers about your products or services?