Names are funny things. They are the nouns of our lives. They create expectations and label us. They become our brands.
We are often asked why we named our company Calexis and what it means. The truth is, we made it up.
Our business is creativity. We create brand imagery and names for our clients, amongst other things.
When we started our company, most of our competitors simply put their last names on the door in some order determined by seniority or a coin toss. That was the full range of creativity they had. My personal problem is having a more difficult than average name.
We felt that we should create a company name and build a brand that the name stood for by the work we did.
Created names fall into a few categories: existing words, portmanteaus of suggestive words, or invented words.
There was a trend at that time to use existing words such as: strategy, creative, associates, marketing, communications. Put those together in some order and you have a company name.
Really? To me, these kinds of names always seemed like a cop out, just defining the generic area the company operated in rather than creating a brand. If someone is looking for a generic, they are not looking for the unique approach to solutions that we have. And with the web, trying to find a generically named company is fraught with problems and SEO issues. You also have copyright issues and challenges in securing a URL.
Names that define too narrowly also bring limitations. If you are “Just for Babies” and you want to sell toddler gear, you can bump into a wall of credibility.
Selecting random existing words is another approach. These connote qualities but present challenges as you try to differentiate your company from the original meaning of the word. Companies have taken this approach: Apple, twitter. I notice that they reply on a strong graphic logo to help with their identity.
The portmanteau approach takes suggestive words jammed together and maybe changed a little. Examples would be Microsoft which combines portions of microcomputer and software to make a new word, or Facebook or Netflix. The best of these use connotations of their category or service to add clarity.
We went the harder route and came up with a name that had previously not existed – Calexis. We put our money where our mouth was in believing we could create a brand from scratch. And when the internet came along some years later, we had no problem owning our URL, we were the only company with the name. (There is now a Dutch shoe company also called Calexis but that’s all.)
We were among the first, if not the first, in our industry to create our own name. Now there are many who have branded themselves more ambitiously than putting the partners names on the door.
One of the beauties of creating your own name is that it is easy to own, legally and on the internet. The downside might be helping people pronounce it. Calexis has passed the test of easy pronunciation and as far as we know it doesn’t mean anything rude in a foreign language.