So, About Our Name…
3/19/20 / Kevin Raines
We were Corona long before that pandemic thing was corona. Here’s the story of how we were named.
How Corona Insights Got Our Name
A well-known quote says that “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” It’s commonly attributed to P.T. Barnum, though there’s no definitive proof that he was the originator.
I guess we at Corona Insights will test that theory in the coming months, but we hope that no one holds our name against us. It’s a really cool name and we’re really nice people. And unlike the quote above, we know the provenance of our name. So if you want a mild diversion, I’ll tell you the story of how Corona Insights came to be named.
I founded the company in 1999. At the time, I was the only employee, so the company’s work was whatever I found interesting. At the time, the Denver market had a need for strong market research and I was very interested in the field. I had done some projects in my previous job as outliers from the company’s core work, and I found the process and outcomes of market research to be fascinating.
So I decided to fill the market gap, and I quit my job to start our company.
But what should I name it? I knew that the name would be important, so I started doing my due diligence. I decided that there are three types of names for companies. First, some people name the company after themselves, such as “Raines Research”. I didn’t like that at all. It seemed egotistical, and I had a vision that I would build a company that had value beyond my own reputation. So that possibility was rejected immediately.
The second type of name focuses on what the company does. Examples of such a name might include “Research and Demographics, Inc.” or “Advanced Analysis and Modeling”. But even back in 1999, I knew that the Internet was becoming a thing, and searches on this type of generic name would be a lost cause. These types of names weren’t distinctive enough. So they were out.
And that left me with the third type of name. Pick some interesting word, and then add a descriptor behind it. At the time, the descriptor was pretty clearly the word “Research”, so what interesting word would work as a first name?
I thought through a slew of possibilities, and rules about what would work and what wouldn’t. I was clear that I wanted a name that couldn’t be shorted into an acronym. Our industry is full of these firms, and they all end up sounding pretty generic when they’re shortened to a series of letters. I wanted a word that could be spelled easily. And I wanted a word that had some meaning rather than just being a random word. (And on that note, I wasn’t a fan of made-up words, either.)
I chewed over a lot of different names over a two-week period, searching for the right word to distinguish my company from the pack and also provide some greater meaning. One day, I took a quick walk while I was thinking, heading around the block on Corona Street and Downing Street.
I liked the smooth sound of the word. It had some scientific connotations. It was a secret homage to my initial background as an aerospace engineer, because the corona of the sun is an astronomical term (and a beautiful phenomenon). The corona of the sun is the halo of light surrounding it, so there was a nice metaphor to the light of knowledge surrounding an issue.
Corona. It’s light, an illumination. It’s a crown in its Spanish origins. It can’t be abbreviated into an acronym. It’s a pleasant word to say, and easy to remember. By golly, I had it. It was right there on the street sign the whole time.
I did continue to consider other words for a day or so, including Downing Research, inspired by the other half of my walk around the block. It seemed like a pleasant and competent English prime minister sounding name and I actually liked that name for a number of reasons. But I kept coming back to Corona Research, and it seemed like a winner on every front.
So Corona Research was born, and I worked with a graphic designer to come up with a logo.
The company took off, and thrived quickly. I hired my first employee within a year, and we never looked back. In 2009, we paused and stepped back, and realized that we did much more than research. We had a thriving strategy practice and growing evaluation and analytics practices. Further, we weren’t just data collectors, but rather we helped clients figure out their paths forward. We considered the value we truly added, and decided that “Corona Research” did not aptly describe our work any more. So at our ten-year anniversary party, we bade farewell to “Corona Research”, and became Corona Insights.
So we know right now you’re probably associating the word corona with some negative things, and based on our website analytics a fair number of you found our company by accident while you were researching bad things.
But in its greater context, Corona is a wonderful word. Honest. We hope that instead of thinking of bad stuff, you’ll remember our story and associate Corona with illumination and enlightenment and knowledge. We’ve been working on that for 21 years now.