What’s in a name? Is business success built into the personal name of company founders? We tend to think this way in reference to names such as Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Versace, and Michael Kors; these are all market leaders that have achieved business success to the level of becoming globally recognized brands, and they are named after their original founders. In the case of Michael Kors, who was born Karl Anderson Jr., he took the last name of his stepfather and later decided to change his first name; despite the huge success of this American designer, he ultimately settled on a different name for his fashion empire.
In 2018, Michael Kors announced his intention to acquire the Versace brand and roll the business together into a company called Capri Holdings. In an interview with CNBC, Kors explained that he chose to name his restructured company Capri Holdings after the upscale island resort located off the Neapolitan coast; in essence, he wants to evoke an image of fashionable luxury and indulgence for his holding company, but he is keeping the Versace and Michael Kors brand names.
Before Michael Kors and Versace became fashion icons, their respective names were fairly common in certain regions of the world; the latter in Calabria and the former in The Netherlands. When personal names become famous brands, people with the same name will sometimes get somewhat of a boost in their professional careers. Joshua Kors, for example, is an American journalist who has earned the National Magazine Award, but many people believe he is related to Michael Kors. A similar situation occurs to people with the Versace last name, particularly if they live outside of Italy.
If you have a common name that is easy to pronounce, potential employers will subconsciously be inclined to hire you, but this could pose a problem for an eponymous business. Let’s say your name is James Johnson; should you choose to register your company as James Johnson, Inc., you may run into heavy search engine optimization issues because you will be competing against the likes of NBA and NFL players as well as decorated British army officers.
Business owners looking for an easy buck will sometimes try to surreptitiously capitalize on established name recognition; in the 2000 film “Boiler Room,” for example, an unethical penny stock brokerage adopted the name “JT Marlin” because it sounds similar to JPMorgan. In the case of last names such as Kaiser and Boss, there is a good chance that you will be considered for higher positions in the corporate ladder, and this could also translate into better business prospects. As for family names such as Colombo, Gambino, and Genovese, you can expect having to explain your detachment from organized crime.
In the end, the correlation between common names and business success is not something you should sleep over; instead, you should focus on building a company that provides true value to clients and customers. The idea is to transform a business into a brand, and this is not as simple as naming a company after yourself.