In Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare’s lyrical play set in Verona, Juliet Capulet says to Romeo Montague: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Their love for one another is doomed because their families are at war, leading Romeo to reject his family name and instead be “baptized” as Juliet’s lover. The quotation is amongst Shakespeare’s most famous and perfectly captures both the primary conflict and tragedy of the play.
There is a system of rating academic scholars in South Africa that has been around since 1984, where every five or six years candidates submit a portfolio of their best research outputs. In an op-ed piece published by the South African Journal of Science shortly after she had secured an A rating following her sixth application cycle in 2013, Brenda Wingfield commented that she began to collaborate with her husband Michael subsequent to the completion of her PhD: “My only mistake was that I took my husband’s name when we married. I had no idea at the time that we would work together in such a successful team, but the result has been confusing, for both of us and for others.”
Larry Page and Sergey Brin first met at Stanford University in 1995 and the following year they began collaborating on a search engine called BackRub. Imagine how different the world would look if they had named their new company BackRub instead of Google! Just as Google was being launched, a small Canadian firm called Research in Motion was searching for a name for its new high-tech mobile phone that could send and receive emails. They were torn between MegaMail and ProMail but finally, with outside assistance, settled on the now ubiquitous name of BlackBerry.
In our own field, two companies have recently embarked on a re-branding exercise for their key breast imaging products. When GE Healthcare acquired U-Systems, its automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) system was called Somo-V. GE’s device is now known as Invenia (see image at left), while Hologic, the first company to secure FDA approval for its digital breast tomosynthesis platform, last month re-branded their successful DBT product as Genius 3D Mammography.
When we spun our company out from the University of Cape Town in late 2009 we needed to find a name for our new venture. As described in an earlier blog, we eventually settled on CapeRay. So, what’s in a name? Some would say, “Everything.”