I had to spend most of today in bed shaking off an infection – so I spent a happy hour re-reading Claude Hopkins’ 1923 classic Scientific Advertising.

If you don’t know it, email me and I’ll send you a copy. David Ogilvy insisted that any advertiser read it at least seven times.

I was only on my fourth reading, but this time round I got particularly interested in Chapter 20 – ‘A Name that Helps’.

In a nutshell, Hopkins describes the advantages and disadvantages of some types of company name.

They include:

  • A name that tells a story. Names like 3-in-One Oil and Alcorub, which are like advertisements in themselves.
  • Meaningless names. Names that can be given meaning by long continued advertising – such as Kodak, Vaseline, Lux and Mazda.
  • Names that signify ingredients. Syrup of Figs, Palmolive Soap and so on.

Hopkins preferred the first – names that tell stories.

Meaningless names are expensive to build up into a valuable commodity.

Names that signify ingredients can be used by anyone.

Only original names that tell stories are both advertisements in themselves and can be kept out of your competitors’ clutches.

Applying the logic to a copywriting company

Reading Hopkins made me think about copywriting companies.

I wondered how many copywriting agencies or freelance copywriters had put Hopkins’ principles into choosing their name.

Because I know I didn’t when I set up this company.

And if I were to start again I’d try and think of a name that told the story of what we do.

(By that I mean what we do for clients – help increase profits – rather than the writing process we use to achieve it).

But it’s too late for that because our team has put too much into the Ben Locker & Associates brand. But Hopkins does offer one crumb of comfort…

When a product must be called by a common name, the best auxiliary name is a man’s name. It is much better than a coined name, for it shows that some man is proud of his creation.

Few copywriters would argue with that.

But given the chance, what would you call your company?