The name of the rose

The name of the rose

Can you imagine how much trouble we would have if we had to choose our own names? For most people, the closest we will ever come is in choosing the names of our children. But no less difficult is choosing a company name, especially in the IT industry.

A company's name can define what it sets out to be - such as Compaq being an amalgam of "compatibility and quality". Or, it can vaguely represent what the company does, such as Microsoft or FileNet, or be more esoteric, like Lotus or Quarterdeck.

A name like IBM - International Business Machines - clearly spells out what the company is about, although over time the three letters have come to mean more to most people than the full explanation. Interestingly, its services subsidiary, ISSC, has recently changed its name to IBM Global Services, thus leveraging the brand name of its parent.

A name can come from the principles of the com-pany, such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, or Fore Systems, where the "Fore" represents the first letters of the names of the four founders.

Then there's Ashton-Tate. Founder George Tate sought a name that would sound solid and reliable, such as Hewlett-Packard. There never was a company principal called Mr Ashton, although the front desk later sported a parrot by that name.

Network monitoring and reporting vendor Kaspia got its name after CEO Jeff Erwin spent a long night in a London restaurant mulling over this question. The next morning he woke, called his dinner partner, and announced the new company's name would be that of the restaurant.

US networking start-up Mango says it selected its company name "because it is fun and easy to remember. The simplicity of the name speaks to the easy-to-use products we create" - certainly interesting criteria for building a company's reputation.

And of course there is the apocryphal story of how Anite Networks got its name. The story goes that Cray Communications' managers were sitting in a restaurant one night arguing the point. With the bar tab mounting and no resolution in sight, the group decided to call it a night . . . and so did!

Brad Howarth

Tel (02) 9902 2748

Fax (02) 9438 2410

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