Naming business can pose stern test

Nuvodia, Ecova found their way through Web

When the folks at Inland Imaging wanted to create a name for a new business they were launching, something rare happened. The found a name – Nuvodia – that produced absolutely no Web hits.

“It was a complete blank slate” when searching for links to “Nuvodia,” said Jon Copeland, the CEO of the company launched in Spokane this year.

Nuvodia became the name for the company created when Inland Imaging Business Services acquired a Spokane firm, TROI IT, and then a St. Louis company. The new company will provide information technology services for a range of professional firms, including health care, law and accounting.

Consultants tell companies thinking of a name change that the first challenge is finding a Web address that isn’t already claimed by someone else.

When Inland Imaging found no Web hits for Nuvodia, the company quickly bought the domain – even before finally deciding on that name, said Copeland.

Other times the only option is to acquire the name from someone who already owns it.

When executives of Advantage IQ – the energy and resource-management subsidiary of Avista – decided to rename the company last year, they ended up, after some effort, picking the name Ecova.

That Internet domain was already owned, however, and Ecova had to pay an undisclosed amount to take over the Web address.

If the first challenge is a Web address, the second is finding a name that conveys the business’s goals and leaves room for future growth.

“We didn’t want to be pigeonholed by having a health care or a too-techie kind of name,” Copeland said. A group made up of an outside consulting firm and internal staff developed a number of possible names, including Nuvodia, which in Latin means “new day.”

Advantage IQ began looking for a new brand after realizing its growth and acquisitions left it stuck with a limiting name, said Seth Nesbitt, the company’s chief marketing officer.

The company had just completed a merger with a Portland company, Ecos, which provides similar energy-management services. Nesbitt said customers felt confused.

Advantage IQ turned to Portland-based Sandstrom Partners, a company that has helped develop several major-league brands such as Tazo Tea and Moonstruck Chocolate.

Company President Jack Peterson said the firm undertook a full review of Advantage IQ’s business and relationships with its customers before even considering names.

The effort resulted in about 500 possibilities, which was narrowed to 50.

Many of the names were combinations of “eco” and “efficiency.” At one time “Ecovacy” seemed a good choice, but was discarded because it had some negatives, Peterson said. “It was too radical. It sounded like a movement, more an environmental movement than a company,” Peterson said.

By a process of subtraction the word that came from the process was Ecova. CEO Jeff Heggedahl said that name rang all the right connotations. “It has both Ecos and Advantage in the name, so it became the one we really liked,” he said.

The final test, Heggedahl added, is how customers receive a new name. “So far, they think it’s great. People tell us they like it, that it really fits.”

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