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What Inspired Your Brand?
What Inspired Your Brand?

Illustration: Gemma Robinson/theispot.com

From brainstorming sessions to personal connections, alumni entrepreneurs share how they came up with the ideas for their brands.

By Donna Coco

Rhoost: eco-friendly and nontoxic baby-proofing and child-safety products

The name Rhoost resulted from multiple brainstorming sessions with my co-founder, Vianka Perez Belyea. We wanted a name that evoked the idea of nurturing and home. We also wanted something that did not pigeonhole our company into a specific product category and type. For example, we did not want a name that had the word “safety” in it because, while we were starting with a line of safety products, we always planned to go beyond safety. The name Rhoost was inspired by the way a mother bird watches over her roost. When people hear our name, we hope they think of a home or nest and have a feeling of comfort and nurturing.—Tavinder Phull, MBA’06, co-founder

Gorilla Glue: glue, tape, and epoxy

Gorilla Glue was developed in 1995, and my family bought the business in 1999. So we didn’t create the brand, but I know the story behind it. Gorilla Glue was first to market a polyurethane glue, which sticks to nearly everything and is impervious to extreme weather. Consumers expect their adhesives to be tough and strong. With that in mind, inspiration for the name came from the incredible strength of gorillas, along with their approachability and human-like nature. The name fits the product attributes extremely well. Ask anyone to describe Gorilla Glue, and they will tell you that it is a tough, strong glue. It was also important to have a brand that was memorable, and the alliteration in Gorilla Glue helps as well.—Nick Ragland, MBA’00, CFO

House Bear Brewing: handcrafted meads

Years ago Carl Hirschfeld, my co-founder, and I were working on a Sudoku puzzle when Carl heard a bird’s call and said something about it that I found fairly undecipherable. After asking him to repeat what he had said several times, I got “that’s a house bear.” When I asked if that’s what he had said, he laughed and replied, “No, I said that’s a house sparrow.” (Carl is a birder.) Anyway, it became a joke between us. When we needed a name for our new venture, House Bear Brewing represented our off-beat natures, close friendship, and love of the outdoors.

We knew our logo needed to be iconic. We wanted a bear paw print, but quirkier. After a discussion with a designer from Samuel Adams at one of its Brewing the American Dream events, we decided on a paw, and coming off one of the paw’s claws is a drip of honey that turns into a bottle. Our name and our logo represent the creativity, whimsy, and passion we bring to each brew as we take familiar flavors and turn them into sinful libations.—Beth Borges, MBA’10, co-founder

Dooby’s: full-service restaurant and coffee shop

I searched for months for a name, testing ideas with friends and family and even having my brand development team get involved. Looking at a list of options, though, I realized I had no personal attachment to any of the names. So we unanimously decided to use my nickname, Dooby. It’s fun, memorable, easy-to-Google, and has a coincidental play on the word. A lot of people make the joke, “oh, the owner was a stoner,” or something of that nature, which is kind of funny. But Dooby has been my nickname since birth. My mom says I used to cry a lot, and it reminded her of a croaking toad, which in Korean is dukkeobi, and which she shortened to Dooby. The name represents how personal this project is to me, bringing everything I love about eating and drinking under one shop. We want our brand to represent our culture and approach to hospitality and social innovation. We want to contribute to a better Baltimore [Dooby’s location]. If we can be associated even minimally with that, then that’s pretty rad.—Phil Han ’08, founder

MissionRoot: beverages created with fruits and herbs from the Indian mind-body healing system of Ayurveda

The inspiration for the name MissionRoot was a desire to connect my world, 21st century American pop culture, with one of the beautiful aspects of my family’s culture, Ayurveda. So, quite literally, the mission is to connect to my roots. MissionRoot’s Ayurvedic ingredients happen to be roots and plants as well, such as ginger root, turmeric root, and tulsi leaf, so the MissionRoot name works on two levels.—Soham Patel, MBA’12, founder and CEO

Crasqi: high-end men’s swimwear and accessories

Crasqui is a small island located in the archipelago of Los Roques in our homeland of Venezuela. Our goal was for the name of our business to inspire and motivate us every time we heard it, so we decided to go for Crasqi because it’s a place very dear to our hearts that brings back some wonderful memories. (To help people pronounce the name correctly—Cras-kee—we omitted the “u.”) The island of Crasqui is known for its crystal-clear waters and white sands. It’s paradise! We hope that when people hear the name Crasqi, they will imagine the beautiful landscapes of the island while wearing one of our swim trunks.

When you look at our logo, you’ll first see a fish, which represents the coral reef off of Crasqui. Next you’ll notice a hand, which represents our commitment to helping the planet. We donate to 1% for the Planet. Finally, the many colors in our logo represent our connection to the Wynwood Arts District of Miami, which is where we are located.—Astrid Pedregal ’07, co-founder

Follain: retailer of healthy skin-care, hair-care, and cosmetic products

Even though we are a retailer of healthy beauty products, I did not want to use “natural,” “green,” or even “healthy” in our name. This might have scared certain customers away. I wanted a brand name that has two syllables, is easy to remember, and is difficult to mix up with anything else. If you look at successful brand names, those are the trends: Xerox, Kodak, Kleenex, all two syllables and unmistakable. To come up with the name itself, I took a cue from the many consumer packaged-goods companies that use words from other languages to describe their products. For instance, keurig is Danish for “excellence.” So I looked up variations of “healthy,” “natural,” and “wholesome” in different languages. I began with Irish because, yes, I am of Irish descent. Enter follain. Gaelic for “healthy, wholesome, and sound,” Follain describes our mission and brand better than I ever could have done myself.—Tara Foley, MBA’13, founder

Wanderu: Web-based service for finding and booking bus and train travel

My co-founder and I were brainstorming names, and we wanted something that appealed to and personified the young demographic of travelers who like to explore, wander the world, and see new places. We loved the word “wander” as it really encompassed these sentiments, so we started adding sounds to the end of the word. Wanderu sounded perfect. We looked up online to see if the name was taken and saw that there was a wanderu monkey. We thought, “Perfect. Now we have a mascot, too!” When people hear the name Wanderu, we hope they think about traveling the world, hitting the road to see new places, and going on trips by bus and train.—Polina Raygorodskaya ’08, co-founder and CEO

 

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