I have been asked a number of times in recent weeks why we called this product Medic52, so I thought that answering it once on a post would be a good idea!

First, some background. If you have ever built a product and tried to pick a name, then create a brand for it, it can be a massively daunting task. This is made more stressful if you have other things to get on with (like building the damn thing) and deadlines to hit (because you are speaking at an event / snow is running out).

You want something meaningful, descriptive, catchy and not crap sounding. It needs to stick in people’s heads and be recognisable in 10 years. Yes, you have to get something you would be happy to keep working with for many years to come.

So, no pressure then.

Other factors are legally related, if you are going to protect your brand you may need to trademark it, you need a name that is not registered in your territory as a company already, and just as importantly, can you get a domain name that matches.

Why Medic52?

During this process (more detail below) I watched an episode of QI with quizmaster Stephen Fry a technologist and legend in his own right. He talked about the number of outcomes you can have when shuffling a deck of cards. He explains it better than I can:

Granted his statements may be off slightly in purely mathematical terms but I love the concept of a number that is so big it will take an eternity to get there. 52! (said as fifty two factorial / shriek) is a huge number (see it in the image above), and it is untouchable in other mathematical senses. In the industries we are working in, so much is currently done by gut feel and on paper. The trouble is that can be left somewhere, destroyed or forgotten. You turn over the page and the data is dead until someone opens that page again. It is really hard to pass on to the next person to educate them. Opportunities are lost.

I believe this problem is amplified in the health and medicine space because people’s lives are at stake. 

Today, mobile health (#mhealth) is one of the fastest growing areas of mobile technology and the data starting to be collected is growing rapidly. Operating in this space we are going from nearly nothing, to something huge, where the possibilities are (nearly) limitless. We have a significant opportunity to make a great impact on the industry and people’s lives.

So, for that reason 52 stuck with me.

We partnered it with Medic, because it’s an encompassing term for a doctor, paramedic, nurse, patroller and other similar professions. It is a term that can be understood in other languages with little or no translation. It’s what we are all about – saving lives.

How did I do it?

Step 1 – Idea generation

I started out by listing lots of words that matched what we are doing. Words that described the market, users, situation, need and desires. Words like patroller, safety, ski patrol, securites des pistes, patrullas, medical, help, ski, snowboard, data, smartphone, mobile, risk management, accident, rescue and many, many more. This went in to a massive spreadsheet and we came up with a shortlist of combinations that we liked. The spreadsheet did the work of mashing words together and we simply went down the list and highlighted the ones we liked / meant something to us / described what we did.

We also tried the very Gen-Y naming convention of taking out letters from words, SmartphoneMedc and others, but they all looked like mispllings that we really couldn’t live with.

Step 2 – can we have it?

From each of these we Googled the word and phrase to see what else came up. One favourite ‘Smartphone Medic’ was already in use in the USA by a company fixing smartphones for people, so that had to be discarded because that is not what we do. We Facebooked, Twittered and checked social media for username availability, looked up trademarks and  then turned the words around and did it all again. This is crazy time consuming, but there are a few tools that can help with social media usernames.

Step 3 – you can have it, but can you live with it?

Medic52 means something to me, it has roots in what I do and what appeals to me. It ties together with what we are working to achieve, who we are working to help and people I speak too know it’s something to do with medical or health because of the name. I can live with this.

I may not have been able to live with a name dreamt up by a bunch of branding guys in skinny jeans and ironic beards. They may be awesome at that job, but would it mean something to me? Sure, they could have come up with a name that may have been better for many reasons, but I created this, I did the work for it, and therefore I will fight along side it for years to come.

Step 4 – what does it mean to others?

Medic52 generates one common idea I hear a lot – 52 weeks of the year. I can live with that because it is an all year round product that can be easily swung into summer activities in a resort. There are various other descriptions too, and no doubt, you would have drawn your own impression. What I do know is that it’s unlikely to be confused with a mechanic or the next new social media platform.

Either way, now it also promotes conversation and engages people.

For my money – it’s a bloody good brand name.

Now stop reading and go ski.