Why we changed our name

April 15, 2019
" What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet "(William Shakespeare)
" Not if you called 'em Stenchblossoms. " (Bart Simpson)

Changing your trading name always feels like a bit of a cop-out. Tinkering around the edges at best. Shooting yourself in the foot at worst. Because we all know a great name does not make a great product.

But people spend a lot of money changing names.

It cost BP a reputed $211million to change its name from BP to bp. (Of course that’s facetious, lumping a whole load of brand investment under ‘name change’, but still... that’s a lot of money to spend on anything. Except maybe cleaning up oil spills.)

And Royal Mail spent over a million changing its name to Consignia, then the same again… to change it back.

And then there are those companies that spent their way out of a tarnished name, from Blackwater (now Academi) to Philip Morris (now Altria).

But there must be a right time to change a name. For example, have you ever wanted to 'backrub' something on the web?

(Don’t answer that - it could get awkward.)

But that’s what we’d all be doing if ‘BackRub’ hadn't changed its name to Google.

So as we’re about to change our name, I’m taking a minute to explain why VirtTrade no longer works for us.

[Then in a future post we’ll focus on why the new name does. And no, I’m not mentioning the new name, because I am such a tease.]

a) Virt.

Virtual, like ‘Cyber’, feels a bit dated now - a term popularised pre-millennium as we all got terribly excited about the idea of ditching our real lives for a digital representation.

Now most of us have done exactly that, it’s a lot less exciting.

Virtual Pets, Virtual Assistants, Virtua Cop, Virtua Fighter, Virtua Tennis. All from the 1990s. (A time when the letter 'l' was deeply uncool, apparently.)

Virtual still works for Virtual Reality (because the goal hasn’t changed since the 1970s) but... we’re not a VR company.

b) Trade.

We were founded as a Digital Trading Card publisher. And we still are, but it’s only one part of the story, and it shouldn’t be the part that defines us.

Granted, Carphone Warehouse boldly stuck to its guns as its business evolved. But I still think that’s weird. And RadioShack went bankrupt a couple of years back, so let’s play safe eh?

c) Virt(ual) Trade.

In a world gone crazy for cryptocurrency, virtual trading leads a LOT of bitcoin brokers to your LinkedIn profile. To all those people - I hope we’ll be a lot less interesting to you after the name change.

d) Virttttttrade.

One naming expert describes names such as AmeriSure and CompuServe as ‘train-wreck’ names. I see his point, but it’s rather uncharitable. The bigger issue for me is that people first assume that it’s spelled VirTrade. (Or in one case, Fur Trade. *sigh*)

Even now I have to refocus my eyes to check for stray t’s when entering my email.


Writing this, a name change feels like a no-brainer - but actually it’s taken us the best part of year to commit to it. And even now I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, everyone else thinks it’s a great name and we should leave it as is. (Oooh interactive comment opportunity! Let us know below - one way or the other...)

Next up... like soon... I’ll have a few words to say on what we’re changing our name to, and why. Thanks for reading :)

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