What’s in a rename? (Or, what is an oosto?)

The naming, or renaming, of a company is an important step in a company’s journey. While one should rightly concentrate on mission statements and processes and the like, the first impression many people will have of a company is its name.

So it’s important to get it right.

How my company was named

Sometimes the naming of a company is a relatively simple affair. For example, the company name “Bredemarket” is a combination of the beginning of my last name, Bredehoft, with the word market (derived from marketing).

Certainly the name is open to confusion (not that I was planning on doing business in East Sussex), but the name does communicate what the company is about.

I guess I could have called the company Bredewrite, but Bredemarket has grown on me.

Sometimes the naming of a company gets a little more involved.

How my former employer was renamed

When Oberthur was merged with the Morpho portion of Safran, the combined company needed a name (Oberthur was ruled out). So the company adopted the name “OT-Morpho,” indicating the heritage of the two parts of the company.

However, OT-Morpho was never intended to be the permanent name of the company. Everyone knew that the company would be renamed at some point in the future.

A few months later, as part of a razzle dazzle event, the new name of the company was revealed to an in-person audience in France and to people watching remotely all over the world (including myself).

If you don’t want to watch the entire video, the new name was…IDEMIA.

Some thought went into this name, as the accompanying press release noted.

In a world directly impacted by the exponential growth of connected objects, the increasing globalisation of exchanges, the digitalisation of the economy and the consumerisation of technology, IDEMIA stands as the new leader in trusted identities placing “Augmented Identity” at the heart of its actions. As an expression of this innovative strategy, the group has been renamed IDEMIA in reference to powerful terms: Identity, Idea and the Latin word idem, reflecting its mission to guarantee everyone a safer world thanks to its expertise in trusted identities.

However, some people didn’t like the new name at the time, and there was a big ruckus about how to pronounce the name. But at least some thought went into the name, and potential customers at least made the connection between IDEMIA and identity, if not to the other influences.

IDEM means – The same, me too. No, IDEMIA didn’t want to position itself as a “me too” company, but as a company that asserted the identity of an individual. From http://acronymsandslang.com/definition/7720102/IDEM-meaning.html.

Some of IDEMIA’s corporate predecessors also had some stories behind their names.

  • My former employer MorphoTrak was the result of a merger between Tacoma-based Sagem Morpho and the Anaheim-based Biometric Business Unit of Motorola that was previously known as Printrak. In the same way that OT-Morpho represented the union of Oberthur and Morpho, MorphoTrak represented the union of Sagem Morpho and Printrak.
  • The Morpho in Sagem Morpho was an element of the name of the original French company that was founded in the 1980s, Morpho Systèmes. I don’t know exactly why the company was named Morpho, but the term can mean form or structure, or it can refer to a particular group of butterflies with distinct wing patterns.
  • And Printrak, a product name before it was a company name, was derived from the word fingerprint. (And presumably from the system that tracked the fingerprints.)

So even if you don’t like these names, at least some thought went behind them.

And then there are other cases.

How another company was renamed

Anyvision was a company that had been around for a while, specializing in using artificial intelligence and vision to provide security solutions. But recently the company decided to expand its focus.

[T]he company’s evolution and vision for the future…is shaped, in part, by a new collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) CyLab Biometric Research Center. The CMU partnership will focus on early-stage research in object, body, and behavior recognition….

“Historically, the company has focused on security-related use cases for our watchlist alerting and touchless access control solutions….[W]e’re looking beyond the lens of security to include ways our solutions can positively impact an organization’s safety, productivity and customer experience.”

So with this expanded focus, Anyvision decided that its corporate name was too limiting. So the company announced that is was renaming itself.

The new name is…Oosto.

Now some of you may have noticed that the name “Oosto” does not convey the idea of object, body, or behavior recognition in English, Latin, Hebrew (Anyvision started in Israel), or any other known language. As far as I know. (And yes, I saw what The Names Dictionary says.)

So why Oosto? According to Chris Burt at Biometric Update:

The new name was chosen because it is short, easy to pronounce, and free from pre-existing associations….

Well, at least you don’t have to worry about how to say Oosto, unlike Eye DEM ee uh or Eye DEEM e uh or Ih dem EE uh or whatever.

And it’s short.

And it’s obviously extremely free from pre-existing associations.

Which unfortunately means that people have no idea what an “oosto” is.

But it will probably grow on us over time, just as people now use the word “IDEMIA” without a second thought.

Hopefully there isn’t a market in East Sussex named Oosto.

1 Comment

  1. Ev says:

    “The new name was chosen because it is … free from pre-existing associations….”


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