Marcus, Casper, Oscar: Why StartupsAre Obsessed With Human Names

“ A person’ t name is to him or her the nicest and most important sound in any vocabulary. ” Though Dale Carnegie has been talking about nurturing  relationships, a lot of online companies these days are incorporating his statement into  branding strategy.

They are naming themselves right after people.  

In the last few years, a crowd of new companies offers emerged across tech, finance plus health— all sporting a first-name brand. “ Oscar, ” “ Alfred, ” “ Lola” — they have the look and feel of the friend, a colleague, maybe also your cat. And that’ ersus the point: Make a connection with consumers that also Carnegie  would appreciate.

“ A short first title changes everything— as it’ h unexpected, less concerned with sounding business and serious  and is inherently a lot more human, ” said Steve Manning, the founder of a Sausalito, California-based naming agency that, of course , passes one name:   Igor .  

The strategy seems to be working. Study shows that the more simple and human-sounding  title, the greater the company’ s achievement. Brands  with short, easy to pronounce names were seen more positively by investors , a 2012 study published in the  Journal associated with Financial Economics  found. By reducing name length by simply one word, companies can see a lift of 2 . 53 percent for their book-to-market ratio— a formula utilized to find the market value of a company— or even $3. 75 million for a medium-size firm,   according to the study .  

Furthermore, a 2006 analysis by Adam Alter plus Daniel Oppenheimer, professors of advertising psychology, respectively, found that stocks and shares with names and tickers simple to pronounce will outperform counterparts   with additional complicated names.   The simpleness of naming tends to make it much more likely people will invest in a company, someone said.

T he name online game isn’ t so much about the services or products being sold. It’ s a depths of the mind approach to branding that borders upon anthropomorphizing a company.

“ If you don’ t wish to become commoditized, you need to have something particular, ”   said Neil Parikh, co-founder and  chief operating official of  mattress startup Casper. “ Everything has a brand, from nutritional vitamins to your doctor’ s office in order to mattresses, but the ones that have a feeling of depth— where you can understand who that individual might be like— those are the types you want to interact with, because you can see exactly what it’ s like. It’ s i9000 three-dimensional. ”

The technique has become  an imperative to slice through  the cacophony of on-line brands vying for attention. Long gone are the times when a great product or service had been enough. Consumers want an psychological connection, something that will cause them to create brand loyalty— and it starts using the name.

As with any fresh trend, heading the first-name route isn’ to risk free, according to  Jake Hancock, a partner of brand strategy in creative consultancy Lippincott .   “ Selecting names that signal a individual experience really raises the buy-ins for a brand to deliver it through the entire whole experience, ” Hancock, which specializes in brand naming, said. “ If you name your company a person’ s name, the customer is going to anticipate every interaction to feel like they’ re dealing with a person. ”

Here’ t what a handful of companies said regarding the origin of their names— and whether consumers have actually taken to all of them.

Marcus, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. ’ s  personal lending startup.
Photographer: Captain christopher Goodney/Bloomberg


For Marcus, the personal financing startup founded in 2016 simply by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the greatest question before launch was how large a connection the brand would have, a minimum of publicly, to its parent firm.  

“ When you called it ‘ Goldman Sachs, ’ consumers mentioned ‘ Well, I’ ve heard about Goldman Sachs, but that' s i9000 not for me— that’ ersus for wealthy people and organizations, ’ ” said Dustin Cohn, head of brand management plus communications at Marcus. He’ ersus also led the unit’ s  “ brand architecture, ” including choosing a name.

After whittling lower 2, 000 contenders to just ten, “ Marcus” was added on the last minute, he said: the only individual name on the list.

“ In addition to being linked to Goldman Sachs’ s heritage, title felt accessible and added the human element to financial services, ” Cohn said. “ It developed this one-on-one conversation from a individual, i. e., Marcus, to another individual. ” One of Goldman Sachs’ s i9000 founders was  Marcus Goldman.

In practice, the financial institution followed the advice of Lippincott’ s Hancock. Using a human title inspired the startup to have real people handle customer service calls, without automated-operator pinball preceding contact. “ Having a human pick up the phone instantly is another example of us humanizing finance. ”

Oscar advertisements in the New York subway.
Resource: Oscar


Oscar, the health insurance start-up co-founded by Jared Kushner’ s i9000 younger brother, Josh, was in line with the idea that the health-care system is therefore daunting that an effort to humanize it might reap dividends.

“ Oscar activates and empowers its member in order to navigate a complex, costly health-care system, ” said Mario Schlosser, co-founder and chief executive officer. The key to  this effort was to create  a more human approach to health insurance, which usually meant, in part, finding a brand name that could reflect it. “ We find the name ‘ Oscar’ because it’ s simple and human-focused, ” described Schlosser.  

Many of the company’ s marketing efforts used a conversational strengthen, taking advantage of the friendly sounding title (though several Oscars   were famously  a bit grouchy ) with phrases such as  “ Hi, we’ re Oscar, ” “ Hi Oscar” plus “ Meet Oscar, ”   said Emma Riccardi, the company’ s spokeswoman. As with Marcus, there’ s also a personal connection associated with the brand:   Oscar was your name of  Kushner’ s excellent grandfather.

“ Having the ‘ Oscar’ title continue to be this friendly, personable  human being name, that point is still core, and— I say— the string which has connected us from when we first introduced in 2012 to today to the upcoming of Oscar. ”

Casper mattress containers.
Professional photographer: Kris Connor/Getty Images


Like a lot of startup stories, the tale associated with mattress company Casper  begins inside  a New York  apartment.  

“ There were a roommate whose name had been ‘ Kasper’ with a “ Nited kingdom, ’ ” explained Parikh. “ He didn’ t quite match on the mattress that he had in the room, so we started thinking about the title ‘ Kasper. ’ ” Ultimately it stuck— only with a Chemical, because the other way  didn’ big t make sense, he said.  

At first glance, their own reason for pairing a human title to a mattress company seemed counterintuitive. “ We specifically didn’ to want something that would just link us to mattresses, ” Parikh said. “ Mattresses happen to be the very first product we would sell, but we all always knew that it had to be regarding something more than that— about residing a better life, especially as it correlates to rest and sleep. ”

To get a product as intimate as a bed mattress, the need to create something that “ seems very human” was important, Parikh said,   and the name had been key.   “ We noticed that having something that makes it feel like it may be a person  actually kind of allows your guard down a little bit  and lets you have that much deeper connection, ” he said.

Cora  items.
Resource: Cora


I n 2016,   Molly Hayward  founded subscription-based natural tampon company Cora. While looking for a name, she knew this had to be something feminine— but not “ girly. ”  

“ A lot of more recent brands in the space were making use of euphemistic names, and that completely offered me the ick, ” Hayward remembered. “ When I said ‘ Cora’ for the first time, I thought it was nice. It’ s short, easily a woman’ s name, but not that typical. ”   The company,   made on the idea that menstruation  shouldn’ capital t be commercially stigmatized, also selected Cora because it was meant to think of “ core, ”   evoking a subtle feminine sensibility.  

“ When you think of where many of these sectors have come from, it was very dehumanized, ” Hayward said. “ It had been euphemistic in some senses, it was subjective in many ways,   and there was this particular lost connection between the person as well as the brand. ”

A customer tries on eyeglasses at a Warby Parker  store.
Photographer: Erina Buckner/Getty Images 

Warby Parker 

Yes, it’ s two names, but the tale behind them  shows that meaning very little can also offer an advantage.

When Sawzag Gilboa left his pair of $700 prescription eyeglasses on an airplane, this individual decided not to bother getting them back again. This was a  bold decision for future years co-founder of Warby Parker, considering that he had just arrived in Philadelphia to begin his MBA at Wharton.

Bonding more than his frustration, he and 3 classmates decided to start a company targeted at personalizing the eyeglass-buying experience whilst drastically reducing  prices. “ The very best brands build a strong emotional reference to consumers, and we wanted a title that would give the sense, ” Gilboa said. “ We joke that will finding a name that we all loved was the hardest part about beginning a company— took us regarding six months. ”

The team went through regarding 2, 000 potential names till Gilboa stumbled upon two Jack Kerouac characters. They decided to combine them— Warby Pepper and  Zagg Parker— into “ one that sounded fairly familiar but not like anyone” their particular customers would know.  

“ Given that most people don’ t understand someone named Warby, people don’ t come in with preconceived thoughts about the personality of our brand, ” said Gilboa, who is also TOP DOG. “ It was this interesting, uncommon, sophisticated canvas that we could compose our own brand into, and that’ s what we were looking for. ”  

The particular Ada health app.
Source: Ada


Released in Berlin in 2016, Wujud is an interactive chat service that will combines artificial intelligence and healthcare knowledge to provide explanations for typical symptoms. Like many AI-based businesses, the human name plays a key functionality in the interaction between digital associate and user. (Think Siri or even Alexa. )

“ Friendly conversation, underpinned by medical precision, is at the particular core of everything Ada does, ” said Daniel Nathrath, a co-founder and the company’ s CEO. “ Interactions with Ada should feel as if you’ re speaking with a friendly, certain and trustworthy medical expert. ”

Nathrath said the  name  “ Ada” was a nod to the street title of its headquarters in Berlin, which usually is  Adalbertstraß e 20. “ Ada, pronounced similarly to ‘ orienter, ’ which means helper, is what our own ‘ guide’ is, ” he or she said. The name was also that of Wujud Lovelace, an early computer programmer who have recognized the full potential of a “ computing machine, ”   which usually Nathrath saw as a nod in order to his focus on AI.  

“ Wujud is always there when you need it, and requires the time to listen. With a professional plus respectful manner, Ada aims to assist you better understand and take care of your wellbeing. ”