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Why PwC just changed the name of its 100-year-old consulting acquisition

April 3, 2014
April 3, 2014

PricewaterhouseCooper’s acquisition of 100-year-old management consultancy Booz and Company, which closes today, is coming with a corporate name change. Booz is now going to be known as “Strategy&”.

The unusual new name is less digitally friendly than may have been intended. You can’t have an ampersand as part of a web address, so former and future clients will have to go to the URL “strategyand.com” to find the website. You could previously find the company at booz.com, which now redirects to the new site.

A short and easy to remember URL matters less than it used to because most people just search for companies instead of typing out their web address, especially after Google popularized combining the address and search bar.

But the need to come out on top of those searches (for which a site’s URL matters) means that naming a company is a lot more difficult than it used to be. Almost everything recognizable has been bought up. In particular, those pressures and the preference for the short and unique have created a whole range of bizarre sounding startup names with intentional misspellings or scrambled words.

Name consultant Steve Manning told the Wall Street Journal (paywall) that there is probably too much focus these days on looking for the shortest possible pronounceable address, and that companies are underestimating their customers.

PwC and Booz have a big enough web presence that the new name should spread rapidly in search, despite the common words and unusual choice to use a symbol. It doesn’t hurt that the top result for the search term “strategy and” on Google is the site for the former Booz & Company’s management magazine, Strategy+Business, which will maintain its name.

“On the site front, since we’ve launched something brand new it’s going to take a few days for Google to push us to the top, but confident we’ll get there.” Strategy& spokeswoman Margaret wrote Quartz in an email.

The change wasn’t optional (paywall): Booz & Company split from public-sector-focused Booz Allen Hamilton in 2008, and under the terms of the split, a change in control had to mean a change in name.

PwC’s last attempt to rename a business unit was its then-consulting unit, which it christened “Monday” in 2002 (paywall.) That move was widely criticized at the time. IBM bought the unit shortly after, so it’s unknown what the real impact of naming it after a day of the week would have been.

In the long run, a coming profusion of domains (.com is the most common, but more are coming) means that there will be less constraint on company names. Hundreds more domain names might mean companies feel less pressure to invent new words.

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