Why do healthcare startups have the same names as my human friends?

In my notes app, sandwiched between brainstorming ice cream ideas and instructions from my physical therapist, is a list of names I’ve started keeping since I started covering care. of health: Maven, Renee, Ruth, Alma, Lyra, Paige, Olive, Sami .

The original goal was to collect businesses that share names with my friends. But he quickly outgrew that.

This is a particular trend I see in healthcare startup names. Many of these companies share many similarities: they started between 2014 and 2021. Many of them work in niche areas of the healthcare system, such as fertility or postpartum care.

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I almost wonder if this naming strategy by so many healthcare startups is to make these companies more accessible to young people trying to navigate the healthcare system – people who want tech-enabled care, who have experience with prejudice or discrimination in health care. care system, or who are tired of navigating through disparate and compartmentalized entities to be treated.

I spoke to Oliver Ralph, who was part of the founding team of branding agency Character, which was later sold to Dentsu Aegis Network in 2018. In 12 years, Ralph has worked with companies as big as Facebook , as well as healthcare companies such as One Medical, Carbon Health and Ōura. He was also involved in the creation of Care/of, a consumer health brand.

“Many healthcare startups have human names because they often focus on providing personalized, human-centric healthcare solutions,” Ralph said. “They establish a more personal and accessible brand. I think with large healthcare companies, the experience can often be so impersonal. »

“Hi, Renee”

I’ve talked to a few startups about it. Postpartum care startup Ruth Health was named, in part, after the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

“The day before RBG died, Alison and I called each other in tears. She said, ‘We will now be without Ruth forever,'” co-founder Audrey Wu said in an email. “aha” moment when we decided to name our company Ruth – after her and continue to realize the amazing work she has done for women.”

Maven stands for “expert” – a nod to Maven Clinic’s telehealth platform niche in fertility care.

When I was a dot.LA reporter, I spoke to Dr. Renee Dua, co-founder of senior care startup Renee (formerly known as HeyRenee). The company specializes in personal healthcare for elderly patients who wish to remain independent.

“I really want to focus on the patient experience. And honestly, that’s why we didn’t call it Some-Complicated-Name Health,” Dua said in 2021. “That’s why we called it HeyRenee, because he should just be so nice that you have feeling like your daughter is taking care of you.”

Then there’s Tia, which, no, isn’t a name, but means “aunt” in Spanish.

“[It] symbolizes the caring and trusting relationship we want women to have with their health – similar to the relationship you might have with your aunt or a significant woman in your life that you can always turn to without judgement,” said one. company spokesperson in a statement. .

What’s in a name?

But what’s the deal with the emotional appeal? Ralph said branding agencies spend a lot of time talking to founders about authenticity and why they started the company.

“If you focus the business on the functional benefits, another cheaper or faster business will come along and knock you out of your job,” Ralph said. “But if you have that more emotional, stickier connection with consumers, you can keep that top spot.”

Agencies often brainstorm hundreds of names before presenting just a handful to a client. There are functional aspects to choosing a name – it should be easy to brand on a mobile app and a web banner. It must be searchable. It has to somehow stand the test of time. And will the company name make sense in an Asian market or in a South American market?

After working with a law firm to filter through hundreds of options, agencies often have only a handful to present the client with.

“It’s actually one of the toughest deliverables,” Ralph said. “Doing a website, doing the branding system, all the other parts are relatively easy compared to the name.”

But the hardest part is longevity. These companies, ideally, will be around for a long time. So, the name they choose should be unique for now and stay fresh even decades later.

“At the end of the day, it’s about differentiation,” Ralph said. “As soon as a human name is undifferentiated, it’s time to consider another direction.”

If a startup wants to jump on the naming trend while still being original, I have a few other friends you can choose from.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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