O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
. . . O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d . . . .
from Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2
What’s In A Name?
For nearly twenty years, Chapman Business Services has been providing primarily Quickbooks accounting services in Los Angeles. If one googles for our company name, chapmanbusinessservices.com shows up first on the page, in both Google and Bing. (Is it called “binging” on Bing?) Yet, there is a competition on that page between our website and websites for the Student Business Services page at Chapman University.
Chapman itself is a rather common surname, (although interestingly not as common as several of the other members of my family tree, including Williams, Parker, Nichols, and probably more that escape my memory.) To some extent, Chapman does say something about the “who” of Chapman Business Services. Laura, however, took on that surname when she married me. In my hometown, Chapman meant something because my Uncle Bert was a county commissioner there, and my daddy was active in local Democratic politics. But in Los Angeles, I don’t think there is any particular caché to the name; Marguerite Chapman has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A google search revealed that fact to me.
Business Services, on the other hand, is beyond vague. What is described by “business services?” One can think of many types of “business services,” and some of those services might even be illegal or morally indecent. On the other hand, one can expect that at “Joe’s Steakhouse,” Joe would serve up a delicious steak medium rare. “Joe’s Steakhouse” is a name that more than pulls its weight.
So when it came time to expand our business, we considered changing our name. The complaint? Chapman Business Services doesn’t really say who we are and what we do.
Shakespeare Sheds Some Light
And as is often the case, Shakespeare can shed some light on this situation. In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is a pretty young girl (two weeks shy of her fourteenth birthday) who has kissed a very good looking boy at a big party of her father’s, only to find out after those two sweet kisses that Romeo (that’s his name) is the son of her father’s most hated rival in town. Feeling a heady mixture of desire and intrigue and fear, she wanders out onto her balcony afterwards and talks to herself. “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?” In the cartoons, this line is often followed by Juliet sticking two fingers in the sides of her mouth and whistling for Romeo to appear. But, while funny, such a reading is wrong. Wherefore in early modern English meant Why. She is asking “Why is your name Romeo?” Juliet understands that the name (and specifically the surname Montague) marks out a rival allegiance. Juliet (and Romeo as well, we later find out) wants to create a new world in which the deadly allegiances to family names don’t exist. “Be some other name,” she begs. And then she begins to question the logic of the meaning of names. “What’s in a name?”
That is exactly the question. Since we feel that the name Chapman Business Services has some identification problems, we seriously considered alternatives. We wanted a name that says who we are and what we do. Who are we? Laura and I have been musicians all our lives. Laura majored in voice at Cal State Northridge. I studied piano for many years from my Aunt Ruby; on that side of my family, we have an unbroken line of piano teachers stretching back into the nineteenth century. I played trumpet in a jazz band and even in the MOB (Marching Owl Band) at Rice University. When Laura was young, she and the other members of her family had a “family band” that played for local political events. We have had season tickets to the Los Angeles Opera for many years. So a clever name referring to music really seemed to say what we loved. First we thought of Maestro Financial Services, then in a conversation with a consultant, Laura said, “We are Virtuosos in Quickbooks.” The lights came on. I became convinced that God had reached out and planted that word in Laura’s head to direct our way. We bought virtuosofinancial.com. Then my son said, “If I were looking for bookkeeping services, and Virtuoso Financial was the first link Google came up with, I don’t think I would click on it because I would figure that they weren’t the company that would give me what I wanted.” Since my son is at least 100 times smarter then me, Virtuoso Financial died a quick death. Then we tried Virtuoso Bookkeeping Services, then Virtuoso BookkeepingPlus. I designed a logo with that name. Everyone hated the logo.
We are also redesigning our website, and we want it SEO optimized. SEO optimization is an arcane skill not dissimilar from medieval alchemy. SEO optimization takes an ordinary, leaden website and magically transforms it into GOLD! One of the magical elixirs used in this alchemy is called “Domain Authority.” And apparently, a website that has been around for a long time begins to develop this Domain Authority. But effective Content Marketing can also convert lead to gold. I was lost. “What’s in a name?” Exactly my question.
Since I’m suggesting we take advice from a hormone riddled teenage girl (who is not yet 14,) let’s see what Juliet has to say. “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” This line points to a subtle philosophical/linguistic hypothesis. What is the interaction between an object’s perceived characteristics and its linguistic signifier? I was told in college there was a South Seas tribe that did not have a name for the color “yellow,” and therefore could not distinguish the color yellow from other colors on the color wheel. The Aramaic transliteration of rose is wrd. Postmodern literary theory would tell us that . . . But I digress.
What’s The Point?
The point is that Laura and I seemed to get into many heated discussions over a topic for which there was no clear good answer. Would it be a mistake to keep our old name? Would it be tragic if changing our name didn’t make us rich and famous? The tragedy in Romeo and Juliet occurs not because Romeo won’t change his name, but because Romeo, at the turning point of the play, makes the fateful decision that being a man requires that he forsake his love for Juliet and kill the man who killed his buddy.
And Laura and I have decided that, for now, we are going to keep the name Chapman Business Services. We couldn’t come up with a name and logo that was so good and so compelling that it overcame the negatives of dropping a 20 year old name. So we are going to stay Chapman Business Services. But if we change our mind again, I’m going to vote for Juliet’s Bookkeeping.