What is in a name?





Morgan Stanley

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Initially, I thought that using a person’s name on a business was a sign of vanity. But that opinion has changed with time.

It is (and always has been) hard to start and run a business successfully. Most business fail in their first few years. Knowing that, how can any business get the first few customers to care about them and trust them?

By putting their name on the business, the founders of these businesses stick their neck out. They signal skin in the game. You can see this more frequently in businesses where trust is paramount. That is why banking, accounting and law firms follow this convention more than others.

There is more to getting your name on a business than vanity. Courage, for instance.

2 thoughts on “What is in a name?

  1. 1) My guess is that accounting and law firms might have initially started as one man operations so it made sense to just go with the founder’s names (and perhaps some of today’s largest banks could have also started with one principal lender – E.g. JP Morgan). So it might be firms in the “service industry” especially “individualized, personalized services” could the first to adopt names of founders [There are exceptions in banking of course – Credit Suisse, DB, Bank of America etc more than accounting or law]
    2) Just for the sake of argument founder-name-company in the sectors you’ve chosen (except accounting and law firms of course) also have non-sector-name competitors – McDonalds vs. Burger King, Daimler vs. BMW, Morgan Stanley vs. Credit Suisse

    That’s my $0.02

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shanmug, thanks a ton for your comment!

      As you have pointed out, naming your business after yourself isn’t the only way to build trust. But there is more to it than plain vanity.

      My guess is that in professional services, this convention would be more prevalent than other sectors (as a percentage), given the greater need for accountability here.


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