What’s in a name? Bolster is Born. 

By Ben, co-founder of Bolster

They say having your own business is like having a child.  So taking into account my two sons, Thomas and Joseph, last week I became a dad of three when Bolster was born.

It stands to reason then that naming your business is also a very similar experience to naming your kids.  It’s a big decision.  Huge. You want it to be memorable.  You want it to be easy to say and spell (just ask one of our Zinc Co-founders called Padraic - pronounced Porek).  You and the other parent both need to love this name, and of course you need to feel like the name embodies something incredible. Something that lives up to all the hopes and dreams you have for your child.

Now naming my children has never been easy.  Having been told at 12 weeks that we were expecting a girl, Thomas was in fact Lola until he popped out to give us all a big surprise in July 2011.  Joseph on the other hand was a little more straightforward, (a 3D scan at 32 weeks saw to that), however even with him there was much debate.

But with a digital brand today, it’s even harder. Finding an available URL can be the equivalent of ensuring no one in your child’s generation anywhere shares their name.  So this is where the compromise often comes in.  A workaround.  A prefix of “join” or “we are”, or even an .ai or an .io at the end.  It’s the equivalent of the odd middle name for a child. Just ask Will A B Tanner.

So with all this in mind and after a week or so of firing names back and forth (some pretty good, but some absolutely terrible), it became clear that a bit of external help to expedite matters might not go a miss.  

An hour or two with the guys at Pretty Green, the marketing agency behind the rise of Nandos, Under Armour and Maxi Nutrition, did the trick.  They took us through a naming process that they’ve developed for other clients and whilst it doesn’t name your business for you, it does at least provide a framework within which you can generate and organise your thoughts.

There are 6 categories:

1. Product Offering
Words that very literally articulate what your product delivers
E.g. Volkswagen, which is “People’s Car” in German

2. Origin
A name inspired by where your journey began? How did you meet? Where did you meet? Who/what was your inspiration?
E.g. Adobe was named after The Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of co-founder John Warnock.

3. Mythical/Fictional
Named after a mythical character that reflects your challenge or your product
E.g. Nike, the Greek goddess of victory

4. Made up
Often a new word created by more than one associated word smashed together
E.g. Vodafone - voice, data, phone

5. Lateral connections
A mood, feeling, or state that reflects your values
E.g. Innocent Smoothies

6. Founder’s names
A name that uses the name of the founder(s)*
E.g. Walmart was named after its founder Sam Walton.

*I always found this last one a little egotistical, but nonetheless during desperate times I found myself suggesting Willben!

This structured way of thinking was really useful for Will and I (thank you Pretty Green), and as of last week we named our business. We are really happy with where we ended up.

Subjectively the name might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s where a few other similarities with your children come in. Like a child, it is how a brand behaves in the world that defines who they are, far more than their name. And of course, even after as little as a week, you look back and realise that despite all the umming and ahhing, they could never have been called anything else, after all.

So meet the latest addition to my family: Bolster, the online community for people supporting someone they love. 

And the URL... www.joinbolster.com



Will Tanner