Is There a Memorable Brand Hidden in Your Name?

Last Updated Aug 16, 2010 10:45 AM EDT

My BNET colleague John Warrillow thinks it's a bad idea to use your name as a company name. He makes a compelling case on his blog, but after a recent chat with Joel Bomgar (aka Bomgaars), the CEO and founder of Bomgar Corp. in Ridgeland, MISS, I'm not so sure I agree 100% with John. So should your name be your company's name? Bomgar's answer is yes. And no. Let me explain.
Bomgar (the company) makes secure remote support software, a nifty program that allows tech support people to fix your computer from afar. Joel Bomgaars, who just turned 30, started the company in 2003 when he was in college and named it NetworkStreaming. "It was a terrible name," he admits, "and we wanted a better one so in 2007, we asked our employees and our marketing department to make suggestions. We came up with 120 names and they all sucked."

And then a clever employee suggested building a brand identity for the company using its founder's name. Bomgaars demurred because he thought that was too arrogant. Besides, the spelling of Bomgaars, a Dutch name, was problematic for branding purposes. But the company's marketing team persisted. What about "Bomgar," a small but significant variation? "It was a short, unique, and memorable name," says the CEO, who finally bought into the idea so thoroughly that he considered changing his last name legally. "So I went to my wife and she said 'absolutely not; you have too much Dutch heritage.'" His compromise: he goes by the name Bomgar for business, and retains his original family name for everything else.

Now, the company's support product, once called SupportDesk, is called Bomgar; its appliance, formerly Support Appliance is called Bomgar Box. "Once we switched to a single unified and simple brand, it only took three months for our new brand to pass the traction on the web that it took three years to get trying to build the old brands," says Bomgar. "It was an incredible transformation." The company, which had revenues in excess of $22 million last year, has been on the Inc. 500 list for the last two years. Clearly, the name change paid off for Bomgar (the company and the man). But would the results have been the same if his name had been, say, Fenn or Warrillow? Probably not, says Bomgar. "I think the reason it worked so well is that [the name] fit nicely with the six key attributes of a good brand." According to Bomgar, those attributes are:

Short: Bomgar is six characters and only two syllables.

Unique: There was nothing else out there similar to Bomgar.

Memorable: Somehow it seemed to stick in people's minds better than NetworkStreaming.

Alliterative: "Bomgar Box."

Tells a Story: In this case the brand led to the founding story of how Bomgar was started.

Verb: "I'll just Bomgar in and fix the computer problem remotely" or "Just Bomgar It."

Is there a unique story behind your company's name? Tell us!