Small business: What's in a name?

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Roger Holmes (left) and Jamie Duff, founders of Stolen Rum.  Photo / Richard Robinson.
Roger Holmes (left) and Jamie Duff, founders of Stolen Rum. Photo / Richard Robinson.

Small business owners talk to Gill South about their company names

Stolen Rum
Jamie Duff co-founder

It is a reference to the felonious history of rum. We wanted to have a very honest and direct name, without any 'marketing fluff'. We felt we were continuing a lineage of rum, which includes Pirates, Prohibition rogues and racketeers, planters, US Presidents, Hemingway, Pickford.

And the thing that tied all these people together was the scandal, the tall tales and the debauchery. Stolen is about the contemporary wrongdoer, and we salute the dark and colourful "Stolen" history of rum.

All of our new products names, one of which will be released in NZ on October 1, will in some way reflect the lineage of wrongdoers.


Waking Giants
Grant Difford, Founder/Creative Director

As a branding agency we knew that an important part of our success would be not only our name, but the brand story and personality.

Having moved to New Zealand from the UK five years ago, we felt that there was an opportunity to help Kiwi SME's be more focused on success and not sign up to the tall poppies mind-set.

Our concept is based on the idea of finding a giant asleep and poking him with a stick to wake him up. Now to us this wouldn't be smart as a grumpy giant would cause chaos! We see our role as being able to harness that energy and actions into strong positive outcomes.

Many businesses get stuck in the day-to-day, especially in New Zealand where there is a very hands on approach to everything. When working with a client looking to rebrand or inject new life into a business we focus on the owner/management first to increase their energy for the upcoming process - changing the look and feel of a company does not change a culture.

Recently we have worked with clients in highly competitive industries that are hurting, in all cases we see a remarkable change in their emotional approach to their business and a tangible increase in positive activity - reengaging with key stakeholders to share their new story, after all clients what to know that you are innovating and evolving and employees want to be part of something they believe in.

We have a sister company - Hurtbox - which is focused on endurance sports clothing in the triathlon and multisport market. The term Hurtbox is an emotional state that every athlete knows when pushing their own personal limits. We found that this emotive connection to the brand provides a platform to create closer engagement.

We often get feedback from people on how much they love our name and story, and could they have something just as good. That has to be the ultimate compliment.

Mark Snoad, inventor of the game Gumption

In the conceptual stage of my business I thought of calling my game "Kiwi Enterprise" but a friend of mine said that all of the most popular board games have only one name.

So I tried to think of a name that meant enterprise, resourcefulness, ingenuity and innovation, and something that has resonance with NZ. And thus "Gumption" and "Gumption Games Ltd" was born. The name "Gumption" is unique and instructive, it has historic ties to NZ, especially on the farm, and it is still used today... "PM of NZ: Key finally shows some gumption" used in a blog on 2nd August 2012.

Jim Small on Cyclops - the one-eyed brand name

When we started out in 1988 with NZ's first high milk solids yoghurt it was partly as homage to the fabulous thick strained yoghurts of Greece so we wanted a name that made that connection.

When people ask: "Why 'Cyclops?", I list the following reasons but over time I can't be sure which came first; the name or the reasons. It's probably down to serendipity.

1. The Greek connotation - a cue for those familiar with Greek yoghurt (not so common then as now with all the Greek 'style' yoghurts)

2. Distinctive, memorable and pronounceable. It seems many brand names do not have a singular pronunciation.

3. Assonance, with good yoghurt words like 'plops' and 'dollops'.

4. Nice symmetry which we initially emphasised by using a capital 'S' as well as capital 'C'.

5. Last but not least; the in-joke of a Canterbury business being named after a one-eyed creature.

Rachel Buxton on I'm Gorgeous
I own a company called I'm Gorgeous. I'm Gorgeous specialises in the importation of 'gorgeous' costume jewellery and distribution to retailers all over New Zealand. I came up with the name "I'm Gorgeous" as I thought it is very empowering to women and transcends across all age groups and all ethnicities.

I then developed a slogan 'I deserve beautiful things because I'm Gorgeous'. I guess I was inspired by L'Oreal and their slogan 'Because you're worth it'. Anyway, I do chuckle sometimes when random men ask me what company I come from and I say 'I'm Gorgeous' - they often reply, "Oh, and yes you are!". Of course I didn't name my company for that reason but it does make me laugh.

We have been fortunate to see significant growth through the recession and we are very grateful for that.


Buying another complementary company in your industry, or merging with another, can turbo charge your firm's growth if done the right way.

But the process has to be done with exquisite care and attention to detail just like any marriage. Tell us your stories of getting together with another, and how that worked out for you.

Email me, Gill South, at the link below:

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