What’s in a name?

I often get asked where the name "disruptorMonkey" came from.  That’s usually a polite introduction to "and why the heck did you call your company that?"  To me, the latter part is the more important. 

First things first.  The name itself stems from two things I appreciate:  Marvin the Martian and my daughter.  Surely you remember that Marvin’s ray gun was actually a disruptor? My daughter’s nickname (when she was younger) provides the second half of the name — she was climbing before she could walk.

The name was a spur of the moment creation for a TechCrunch party I attended back in 2006.  I hadn’t decided on my next gig at that point and needed business cards to hand out at the party.  The logo was similar in theme to the one now in use, but nowhere near as cool (thanks Andre!).  I thought it was fun and since it didn’t convey a specific product or business area, it had a lot of flexibility.

It also seemed memorable to me.  Pretty different from all the Web 2.0 Warmr / Coolr / Startr / Finishr style names that I saw everywhere, and definitely not an old school stodgy name either.

The more I used the name, the more I saw that it provoked an emotional response.  Sure, some folks disliked it, but almost everyone had an opinion and they remembered the name.  Most importantly, the name starts a conversation.

As some of you might guess from that last statement, I’m a big fan of Seth Godin.  I have a lot of respect for his concept of permission based marketing.  I believe very strongly that starting a conversation is a fundamental part of marketing and a key first step in transforming individuals into customers.

Back in 2005 Seth had a great piece on why the naming game has changed.  As Seth points out:

A long time ago, the goal of a name was to capture the essence of your
positioning. To deliver a USP, so you could establish supremacy in your
space just with your name. International Business Machines and Shredded
Wheat were good efforts at this approach.

It quickly became clear, though, that descriptive names were too
generic, so the goal was to coin a defensible word that could acquire
secondary meaning and that you could own for the ages. That’s why "Jet
Blue" is a much better name than "Southwest" and why "Starbucks" is so
much better than "Dunkin Donuts".

The days of International Acronym Corp. are behind us.  Seth suggests that the key to a brand and domain name is findability within Google, Technorati, Digg etc.  The uniqueness of a name has become paramount.

Seth goes on to point out that there is a lot of power in the way a word sounds and the feelings it evokes. 

Historically, the market we play in has been anything but fun for the customers.  Data management tools have been painful and burdensome. The products we are building are a radical departure from what has gone before.  The name of the company is a reflection of that fundamental change. 

And last, but not least (really a continuation of an earlier point):  it’s fun!  Business is something we take very seriously.  It’s hard work.  But a little fun in the mix can lighten the mood and help with productivity.  While the brand and the company are clearly related, a whimsical name does not imply a whimsical business.

So in summary (in case this was too much to read), we chose the name disruptorMonkey because:

  1. It’s a pure brand: highly unique and owned entirely by us
  2. It starts a conversation, and that’s the first meaningful step in a sales process
  3. It adds an element of fun to a market that has historically been no fun at all for the people that count: the customers

At the risk of sounding like a Highlander soundbite, there is only one disruptorMonkey.  Let the branding begin.