What’s in a name? The parent company of my New York based online trading platform SpeedTrader, has a long history with several names. Stock USA Execution Services, as it is now named, is a study in the importance of the name throughout the evolution of a brand.
Founded in 1999, we originally simply named the company “SpeedTrader.com Inc.” Soon after however, we shed the dot com name to distance ourselves from the Dot Com Bubble which had recently collapsed leaving investors timid and shaken. We wanted to position ourselves as strong, stable, and forward looking and the dot com tag lumped us in with what at the time seemed a dying trend – a bevy of once bright internet start-ups imploding on their investors. I am happy to say, 17 years later, we were different to those companies in more than just branding, proving we had the mettle to continuously provide a superior, reliable service for a generation of clients.
Based in Putnam Valley New York, we then opted for the new name “Putnam Financial.” Simple and to the point. We were one of the only broker dealers in the country and we though the name set us apart. However, Putnam Investments, a Boston based investment management firm founded by George Putnam in 1937, approached us protesting the similarity to their own name. Since we weren’t married to the name and weren’t interested in litigating, we settled with them quickly opting instead for the name “Stock USA Investments.”
There was a specific reason for this choice. We were already building out a second online platform for online trading on a domain we already owned – stockusa.com, We figured the generic but memorable name would make us easy to find and drive traffic to the site. Though the site thrived for a short while, its sister site SpeedTrader outperformed it significantly and eventually we made the call to end the site and focus on SpeedTrader.com.
Finally, we changed the name from “Stock USA Investments” to “Stock USA Execution Services,” because, honestly, the former confused our auditors and regulators. They constantly assumed that we provided investment advice – because of the presence of the word “investment” – and that is simply not what we do. The change to “execution services” better explained our function and cleared up any confusion. Nowadays, we need only worry about jokes from the auditor about guillotines and gallows.