What’s in a Name? – Deepak Srinath

A couple of days ago, I called the office of a well known VC fund and asked to be connected to one of the partners, who I know extremely well.  The receptionist asked me my name and where I was calling from and I told her.  We spent the next  five minutes or so going through  iterations of “sorry please repeat, which company, what,  please spell the name for me, Bidya?, etc”, before I gave up and mustering up my most imperious tone muttered, “ Please tell him my name, he knows me well”…….and she reluctantly agreed to put me through to my contact. This is not an isolated incident; this happens almost every time I call an office or person for the first time and have to explain which company I’m calling from.

Branding and identity for any firm begins with the name.  When we named our firm Viedea, a word play on Vie(compete) and Idea, little did we realize the intricacies of branding and identity.  How does one create a brand (and associated values) that go beyond Uday or Deepak when the name of your firm is mispronounced more often than not?  Not a single client, investor, partner or business associate knows how to pronounce our name correctly. We get called Vidya, Veda, Weed-aya, Video…..and several other gems.  Worse still, because they are unsure of how Viedea is pronounced, our friends and contacts may not use the name of our firm at all in conversations. They simply refer to one of our names while discussing us with peers.

So what are the options before us? – Communicate our correct pronunciation more effectively?  Change our identity to something that is more catchy, easy to recall and pronounceable? Or just let it be because anyway i- banking is all about personal relationships and our clients will come to us no matter what we are called?  I for one believe that creating a strong brand is vital for long term success.  As a friend of mine recently preached after a few G&T’s, “You can choose to be an entrepreneur and create long lasting value or you can choose to be a businessman focused on short term profit”.  Well, we certainly want to be entrepreneurs and we will figure out the best option for us in the next few weeks and months.

I would love to hear from all of you- our friends, clients, partners and well wishers- on whether we should remain a chrysanthemum or become a rose. And just for the record, the correct pronunciation is ‘Y-DEE-YA’

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About Deepak
Venture Capital and M&A advisor, Entrepreneur, Startup enthusiast..

11 Responses to What’s in a Name? – Deepak Srinath

  1. Don Juan says:

    I agree with this article completely. While I do not run a company that faces this problem, I have had to correct people on the proper pronunciation of my last name for over 30 years. On the other hand, you gentlemen went through the process of creating a name for your company that is catchy and original and I do not think that the name of the company should be changed. Your work will clients will speak volumes, and the more you grow, the more people will take notice. Even if at first they don’t get the name. All the best, Don Juan.

  2. s says:

    Since youa er committed to the concept – vie+ idea, stay with the name, just change the spelling so it is pronounced closest to how to want it. It may be better to change the spelling now when the company is in its infancy. You could spell it “Vydea” or “Vy-dea”

  3. Bala Natarajan says:

    Deepak:

    Check out this link – its about online names, but busts some myths about naming in general
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/10/the_new_rules_o.html

    We are connected on Linked In and i read your site regularly – nice to keep in touch with Indian enterpreneurs.

    regds,

  4. Deepa says:

    Well you have a very original name. I would say keep the name and be cool to spell it out to those who just need to hear about it once. The people who want to visit your site often will save it to thier favourites or just hit on the link of your newsletter 😉

    Good luck !
    Deepa.

  5. Karthik KS says:

    Hi

    “Whats in a name”. A lot. Take the name of our company “24×7 Learning Pvt Ltd”. Earlier when we had just started whenever we mentioned this name there have been nods of “I have heard of you guys “, though most of the time it was because of the first part “24×7”. 2 years back we introduced a brand “AVAGMAH” which means “intelligence” in Sanskrit. Thankfully it was easier to pronounce, though as you rightly said at times people avoided using the name lest they embarrass us by mispronouncing it. But then in most cases it led to a longer conversation on the significance of Sanskrit words and the “culture of education” in ancient India which surely left a longer lasting impression.

    I would recommend what we did ie “stick” to your vision, and possibly assist the reader by leaving the “phonetics” close to the Name at all times.

    Cheers!
    Karthik KS
    CEO – 24×7 Learning

    • Hi Karthik,

      Thanks for your feedback. Your experience with AVAGMAH reinforces our belief that we should stick to our name. In fact, when I hear your ads on the radio, the name AVAGMAH sticks out because it is so unique. And you are spot on about the name leading to a longer conversation – almost every meeting we have starts off with a discussion on our name.

      Regards,
      Deepak

  6. Ritesh Banglani says:

    I always thought the “Vie” in Viedea was the French word for Life. Ideas for Life. But this explanation makes sense too, competing for ideas.

    Keep the name – it differentiates you from general, corporate-y investment banking names.

  7. B. Nikolai says:

    I, too, assumed “Vi” in Videa meant life, as in, “giving life/viability to a client’s brainchild/idea”. For this is what Videa most aptly accomplishes; aren’t funding and opportunity, Viedea’s modus operandi, veritably the lifeblood of any venture??

    Keep your name, it defines you better than, it seems, you may realise.

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