What’s in a Name?


Naming is very important and this goes without saying. Naming a company is its own special case. The name is your product, your services, and your mission all wrapped up into one. In addition, the name needs to be memorable and easy to spell, in this day and age, so it can be surfaced on Google. And if your are a business to consumer brand, like us, the name also needs to be easy to pronounce and hear. When giving a name to our company, we wanted to move away for the conventional naming scheme in our business space because we are different and so are our customers.

We are different because we are designing diagnostics for the real world, not for a trained specialist in a sterile lab. For that reason, we wanted to stay away from the conventional science company and diagnostic names. We were familiar with the big brands, the big players, Roche and Abbott. The big guys have already done the work to establish their names as industry standards in lab diagnostics, but our customer doesn’t wear a lab coat and isn’t buyer for a hospital. Our customer is the man or lady on the street, with likely no knowledge or care for the names of these large industry players. Then there are the emerging diagnostic brands. When it comes to the little companies, emerging on the field, their names are clever interpretations of scientific terms or just misspellings of the target for their test. And the names just leave feeling of sterility, disease and awkwardness. Names like bio this and that, something something omnics. If we chose that paradigm, we too would drown in a sea of similar sounding products. Maybe this is effective marketing, but they are still dealing with people. And more importantly, would OUR customer think they knew what they were buying?

Our customers are different because they are not lab technicians or hospital representatives. We are focused on the everyday you and me. We wanted to focus not on features, but a deeper driver of human decision making, emotions. What do we want our customers to feel when they are buying our product? That is, in part, our mission: to change how people feel. We want our customer to feel different than they normally do when they go to the clinic, less like a patient. Right now, testing means going in for an appointment, spilling the beans, and giving a stranger some of your fluids. This is pretty impersonal, for personal health, and can leave a person feeling pathologized rather than proactive. Instead they could have a feeling of ease, responsibility, and dare I say feel sexy when they are testing for STIs. When our customers buy our product, we do not want them to think disease, but self-care and positivity. There is another aspect to naming that conveys the complexity of the product. This area of diagnosis has been in the hands of doctors and can feel out of our customer’s league. Names that communicated the cool technology and molecular science we have cleverly concealed in the device would undermine our customer’s belief that they can do this test. The science stuff we feared would turn off customers who were not budding biohackers or medical students. We want our customers to feel capable of doing the test on themselves as we have designed it. So we made sure our name met KISS standards, keep it super simple.

Now choosing Sex+, Sex Positive, we felt conveyed a lot of what we wanted our customers to know and feel about our product. We all joke, but sex, it sells. Our name is meant to be provocative, memorable, and meaningful. Our name tells you what our products are about: plus or positive are terms referring to testing results; and sex is the way people get what our are detecting. But our name is more than a marketing ploy. We are a company all about sex and our goal removing the shame and coldness from STI diagnosis. Our name reflects a social movement to make sex communication safe and healthy. #StayPositiveTestNegative

All this being said, we have had mixed reviews on our name choice. Some people love the name, what the name conveys, and see the value in keeping it easy and memorable for word of mouth sales. But others have brought up some concerns about the name, concerns that our company might be confused with industries less savory, like pornography.

We have had issues with our emails or websites being blocked because they contain the word “sex” when approaching grant organizations in Ireland. This is pretty funny to us, as all the pornography sites and stores we have come across allude to sex, but rarely ever utter the actual word “sex” in their title page. If you type “sex” into a search engine, it isn’t porn sites that pop up, but fashion and health magazines. If you type “sex positive,” loads of pages come up concerning healthy sex communication and sex advocacy organizations, but not porn.

I would like to say that we have no issues with the sex industry at any level, but could this affect our marketing? We embrace the controversy. We are a business afterall and our social goal is to have more and better communication about sex. With a company name like ours, we allow no ambiguity or no elaborate dance around what our product is about. We are happy to talk more with you or your mother about sex and our mission to change the discourse around sexually transmitted infections.

We are looking for input. So tells us what you think by visiting our site: