What's in a name?

Posted by Cian on Sep 23, 2015 10:46:21 AM

contract analysis - beagle dog tracking

Juliet so famously said “what’s in a name?” to Romeo. Although her point was that the name Montague really didn’t matter to her, rather it was who Romeo was as a person that really mattered… with all due respect, Juliet was a love-stricken teenager who didn’t know a whole lot about branding or marketing.

A lot goes into choosing a name for your brand and you really only get one shot at it. Whether it’s a brand name for a new product line or choosing a name for your new company, it’s a very important decision that will have a direct impact on future success. We were no exception and put a lot of thought, research, crumpled up pieces of paper, and effort into choosing the name Beagle.

Unsurprisingly, one of the questions we get asked all the time is “Why Beagle?” We’re going to answer that question for you in this blog post and offer a couple of best practices that we kept in mind when we came up with the name Beagle.

Your brand will set the tone for your product and company

Your brand name will be one of the first things that a customer knows about you. It should be representative of your product and your company. Your brand name could be explicitly representative of your product, for example, Tri City Paving. However this type of approach can have its drawbacks. Although everyone will know what the company does, this approach to branding typically pigeon-holes a company and tends to be rather dry. We opted for a different approach, a more metaphorical representation when we chose the brand name Beagle.

First let’s start with what our company Beagle does, here’s the quick version: using artificial intelligence, Beagle will instantly analyze a contract and tell you important things about that contract in an easy-to-understand visual way. It also gets smarter the more it is used. We wanted a name that would capture that process of discovery, and self-learning.

Modern Dog Magazine says that when English breeders developed the beagle, “they wanted a sturdy little hound to hunt rabbits and hares, a tireless tracker with a baying voice that the master of the hunt could follow from a distance.” Beagles are scent hounds and are renowned for their ability to pick up a scent and track small game. And for anyone who’s owned a beagle, you know how relentless they are once they’re on the scent, and how clever they can be.

Being able to sniff out those pesky details caught in a forest of legalese and obscurity is what Beagle does. What better way to articulate that than in an easy to understand metaphor? Hence our tagline: We sniff out the fine print so you don’t have to. Our tagline is so intuitive that some people nearly guess it before we even tell them!

Make sure your brand fits your market

You always want to be speaking the same language as your customer and that also includes the name of your brand; your brand must be relatable and familiar to your customer. There are definitely degrees of tolerance that your customer, and prospects will have too. So do your research, run focus groups and make sure that the name you choose fits within your industry.

We had a hunch that the name Beagle would test the tolerance level of our industry, we did our research… lots of it. We discovered that our customers liked the name because it’s unique, it’s simple and the rhyming of legal with beagle makes it easy to remember.

Often the perception of the legal industry and those working with contracts can be a “buttoned-down,” formal environment. Beagle is definitely not a buttoned-down name, quite the contrary, it’s slightly whimsical, it’s friendly, and it’s refreshing. It's approachable, and non-pedantic.

We had the good fortune of connecting with brand guru Will Leben of Lexicon Branding which is responsible for naming billion dollar brands like Dasani, BlackBerry, OnStar, Scion, Pentium, and Swiffer. He told us:

"The name Beagle for intelligent legal software appealed to me from the first moment I ran across it. It’s such a refreshing change from the obscure, polysyllabic vocabulary we associate with the legal profession."  Will Leben of Lexicon Branding

This refreshing change is exactly the sentiment that we were after, and that someone like Mr. Leben recognized that is humbling. The sentiment is representative of our product, our company, and how we operate: Beagle is refreshing.

Be memorable

Research shows that the average person is exposed to anywhere between 3,000 and 20,000 brands a day. With that kind of competition, we knew we needed to be memorable. We think we are doing a pretty good job of it too! With its short two syllable punch “beagle,” it’s much less of a mouthful than “that automatic contract reader thing.” People are starting to hear our name, and the story behind the name is always a topic of conversation when meeting someone new.

Here are a couple of things that we wanted to achieve to be memorable when we thought of the name Beagle, which you can apply to your own branding exercise:

  • Three or less syllables, ideally two: The smaller the word, the easier it is to remember and the less chance of being misspelled. People will want to repeat it, and it will form part of a conversation.
  • Proper spelling: This ensures that visitors can easily search for you without having to wonder if there’s y that should be a i somewhere in the name. Sure there are arguments to be made about trademarking, however if you see the brands above (BlackBerry, Pentium, etc.) you can see they are all spelled correctly. When people talk about your brand it needs to resonate.
  • Elicit an emotional response: Advertising research published in Psychology Today shows that when a customer has an emotional response to an ad, their intent to purchase that product increases by a factor of 3:1 for commercials and 2:1 for print ads. Your brand is part of your ad; your ad is your brand.
  • Not everyone will like it: You will never get 100% approval of your name or brand. The emotional response is usually why… that’s ok. The key is to ensure that the vast majority like your brand.

The brand name Beagle really nails that point about eliciting an emotional response to foster memorability. Who doesn’t love beagles? From the Peanuts character Snoopy to Inspector Gadget’s trusty canine, Brains, many of us have a small piece of our hearts dedicated to beagles. And they are pretty cute when you see them at the airport trying to catch people smuggling in undeclared cheese.

We don’t always have to look at the world through a serious lens, and that's true for branding as well. We do however need to work hard and be relentless. Go Beagle!


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Topics: Beagle, Branding


Cian is a seasoned contract negotiator, Fellow of Stanford Law's CodeX, and the Top Dog and Founder of Beagle Inc. Beagle Inc. uses artificial intelligence to read contracts automatically, and provides a feature rich review tool set.