site map

 

Thingnamer Banner

July 24, 2007 | Tate Linden
We talk to many marketing, branding, and graphic design firms in our area and frequently ask about where they got their name. Typically the answer is something like "It sounded cool" or perhaps "we kept searching until we found one where the website was available and made a bit of sense."

Today I spoke with Bruce Gemmill, president of Campbell and Associates - a marketing firm located in Herndon Virginia. In addition to being an all-around good guy who is involved in the local chamber and other organizations, he had a nice story to tell about his firm.

I was curious how a guy with the last name of Gemmill might end up becoming president of a boutique marketing firm with the name Campbell. I was guessing he'd bought it from someone.

I was wrong.

As Bruce told me, he'd spent years leaving messages and talking with administrators for his clients - and invariably people would respond with "Thank you Mr. Campbell." As noted above, that is not his last name. His last name, Gemmill, is a name not many people have heard of - and it sounds awfully close to Campbell when heard over the phone - or even in person.

Rather than spend the remainder of his career correcting people on his last name, Bruce went with the flow. He named his firm "Campbell and Associates" and in the process ended up with a name that is highly memorable even though it appears on the surface to be common.

Sometimes it isn't the name itself that lends character to the company. Sometimes it's the story. Okay, often it is the story. (In fact, we tend to prefer the story behind the name to be at least as powerful as the name itself. It lends strength to the brand.)

Bruce's selfless act of removing his own last name from his firm showed a lot about the company's core values. And it gives him a nice story that helps people remember who he is, what his firm's name is, and even provides a peek at his own persona.

Kudos, Bruce. Thanks for taking the extra thirty seconds to tell me your story. Hope others enjoy it as much as I do.