Does Your Business Name Matter? WPP says it does not

“How important is the name of your business to its success?”

Google that and you’ll get a ton of articles telling you how important it is.

You’ll find articles like “The 8 mistakes to avoid when naming your business,” and “5 reasons why your business’ name is important to its success.”

Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes, and The Guardian; all top quality sources who claim that the name of your business is critical to its success; all sources you would normally not dare to argue with.

But still, is your business name really that important? I think not.

To give you an example that’s quite close to home for me: I work at the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, which happens to be a part of the WPP group. While Ogilvy & Mather based its name on its founder, David Ogilvy, the history behind the name of WPP is different.


Wire and Plastic Products (WPP)

WPP stands for Wire and Plastic Products. The company was founded back in 1971 as a manufacturer of wire shopping baskets. In 1985, Martin Sorrell (who’s still the CEO of WPP) bought the company for the main reason that it was listed on the stock exchange; he was looking for a company on which he could build a worldwide marketing services company.

Forty years later, the WPP group is the largest marketing services group in the world, employing over 190,000 people in 3,000 offices in 112 countries. It includes companies like Grey Group, Ogilvy Group, Young & Rubicam Brands, JWT, GroupM and Mindshare.

Of the big list of Fortune 500 companies, 350 are clients of WPP. 30 out of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones index are clients of WPP, 63 of the NASDAQ 100 and 31 of the Fortune e-50.

My point is simple: even with a name that makes people think you sell wire and plastic products, you can build a communication empire.

Sure, a name needs to be a remarkable, a bit weird, quite out there and just simply different. But your company name is not critical to the success of your business. Your name is just the foundation on which you will build your business success.

What is critical to the success of your business, however, is what you build on that foundation; the stories that surround your brand and the image that you manage to build.

Do that effectively, and your business name won’t matter much.


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