What’s In A Business Name?

Take just a little off the top, please.

Your brand name is usually the first impression customers will have.

Names carry a lot of connotations for various reasons, mostly because of the actions of previous people who had those same names. Notice how not many people name their kids Judas, Ahab or Adolph anymore.

When you hear the name Medusa, what comes to mind first?

Chances are, if you’re familiar with the Medusa of Greek mythology, you don’t think of beautiful hair. More likely, you think of snakes for hair. That’s why it was odd to see a hair salon named Medusa while driving around the other day.

Boris Vallejo makes even Medusa look hot.

According to myth, Medusa was a monster, one of three sister-creatures called Gorgons, who lived on a remote island. Medusa had snakes for hair and was so hideous that anyone who looked directly at her would literally turn to stone. Ovid’s version of the tale says she was a beautiful maiden until she offended the goddess Athena, who transformed her into the monster. Either way, she’s known as the ugliest thing in all of mythology. (But now fugly is the new pretty, so maybe the name makes sense for a salon.)

Medusa was beheaded by the Greek hero Perseus, who looked at the Gorgon’s reflection in his shield to avoid being turned to stone. Perseus then used the head as a weapon before giving it to the goddess Athena, who affixed it to her shield.

Careful with those scissors.

So why name a hair salon after Medusa?

Granted, I’m not exactly the target audience for the hair extensions or coloring offered by Medusa, so I called the salon to find out. Unfortunately, the person who answered didn’t really know. She thought it had something to do with being near the sea. (I learned Greek mythology in fourth grade; evidently it’s no longer part of public school curriculum.)

This Medusa Salon in Huntington Beach isn’t part of a chain or franchise, but it’s not the only hair salon using the name. There are quite a few other Medusa hair salons scattered around the country. This is not meant to knock any of them. I’m sure they’re all quite capable stylists who do beautiful work.

How to get a head in business.

Just speculating here, but maybe the rationale is that you come in with unruly snake-like hair that gets tamed by the time you leave. (As long as you don’t leave without your head.)

I said, "No mirrors!"

I suppose it’s only an odd name for a beauty salon if you’re a big Greek mythology buff or Clash of the Titans nerd like me who knows the backstory.

Obviously, first impressions are important. But in the case of the Medusa Salon, playing against type by using a memorable name can also help you stand apart.

Ultimately, the name and image of your brand comes from more than just history or past associations. It’s built gradually over time through the cumulative results of your interactions with customers.

Unknown, Nike of Samothrace (Winged Victory), c. 220-190 BCE

By the way, Nike was also a Greek goddess, the personification of victory, but that connotation is no longer as well-known as the footwear/apparel company.

What’s your take?



7 responses to “What’s In A Business Name?

  1. I too find the name a bit unsettling, but I was a big fan of Greek mythology as a boy. However, here’s my “out” for the many Medusa salons across the nation: They’re just trying to combine the fashionability of the Mediterranean (“MED”) with a place they’re proud to do business (“USA”)!

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  5. Probably a contraction/adaptation of MEDicine USER – all those chemicals that hairdressers sniff all day in the course of their work 🙂

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