Headphones By Any Other Name
People say that a person’s own name is, to that person, the most beautiful word that can be heard. It should be without surprise that a company name tends to be important also. But, not everyone is in agreement on this. Referencing companies like Google and Twitter, some say “it’s not the name, but the product that makes you successful”. Based on the experience I’ve had, I only partially agree.
As a business, your name is the first impression – the cover to your book. Time spent considering your target customer’s reaction to this name can be time well spent.
My company, now known as Party Headphones, has learned a few naming lessons the hard way. Hopefully sharing them will help others move through this process quicker than we did.
First, a quick background:
Party Headphones rents and sells wireless headphone systems that allow you to plug any audio source into a transmitter which then broadcasts that signal to all headphones within 300 feet. We provide for a number of very different markets, but specifically target silent disco parties. For those who haven’t yet experienced the glorious Cornell silent discos, these are events where instead of playing the music through traditional speakers, audio is broadcast to wireless headphones worn by the audience.
Lesson 1: Keep domain names simple
When I first started working on the business, I figured Headphone Events Inc. should, naturally, be stationed at www.Headphoneevents.com. In my haste to establish the name and start building the company, I overlooked the double e in the middle. Half the people were typing it in as www.headphonevents.com and before we realized it, our main competitor snagged said domain right out from under our nose.
Lesson 2: Fitting in may not be the best
After our soft launch in the fall 2012 semester with the Headphone Events website, we found that some inquiries came in thinking we would host their event in the way our competitors do. After digging deeper, we found evidence that it was our name misguiding potential customers. It didn’t emphasize our differentiation effectively even though we explained it clearly in the text of our website.
Lesson 3: Do your homework
After deciding we needed a new name, we planned for an eLab-provided name-storming session with Red Antler, an all-star branding consultancy based out of NYC. Our meeting landed a number of solid names, but the one that really stuck out to us was Sound Space. Amped up on the new name and the availability of Soundspaceaudio.com, we charged onward, excited to build our new brand. We grabbed the domain name, outsourced 20 versions of potential logos, and made the announcement to our friends and mentors. Then, a problem came up. One of our advisors recommended we look into trademarks just to be safe. Sure enough, we found Sound Space, right in our classification of goods. And it was back to the drawing board.
Finally in December we settled on the name Party Headphones. The domain name is simple, search traffic for this term is popular with our target market and the name emphasizes our focus on the hardware unlike our competitors. Reflecting on the whole ordeal, it would have been a lot easier to have spent more time working on the name in the beginning.
Jake Reisch AEM ’13 is one of the founders of Party Headphones along with James Watt (Meng ’08).