When we began working with the ambitious Seattle startup Dolly, we instantly fell in love with the company name. Even though the delightful creation was not one of our own doing, we admired the charm, memorability and unique functionality of the name.

But is Dolly a Five-star name, according to our criteria? Inquiring minds want to know. So after much discussion and careful analysis, we've come to the conclusion that, no, it's not a perfect name. But it has the potential to become one. Read on for our full analysis:

Overview of Company

Dolly is a peer-to-peer hauling service. Think Uber for moving. You use their app or website to find a brawny helper near you with an appropriate sized vehicle to move whatever you need schlepped from one location to another.

Naming Technique

Dolly is both a proper and a common noun. As a proper noun, the name personifies the service as a trusted sidekick or companion to help you get the job done. It’s also the word for a small wheeled trolley used to move large or awkward shaped objects.

Other companies who have used proper nouns to great effect include Filson, Harry’s, Tesla, Casper, Warby Parket, Burton, and even Trump. When the proper noun doesn’t also reference the product or service, brands often have to work harder to establish the name through a creative and compelling About Us story and other messaging.

Dolly is a name made for our shared economy times. It’s short and friendly  — both of which app-based services need to be these days to maximize App Store optimization and stick in the minds of mobile-first customers.

Competitor Names

Competitors include Ghostruck, Pikkup, Lugg, GoShare, BuddyTruk, Bellhops and Muver.

Rating System Scorecard Dolly

Rating & Analysis — 4 Stars

Strategy: The Dolly name arrived via the tried-and-true startup method: after an exhaustive roundtable brainstorm and more than a few rounds of drinks. Even though the name was created without a supporting brand strategy, it is highly functional and also has the potential to connect emotionally. More strategic work and time will infuse the name with greater meaning. 

Concept: Dolly has the potential to be a true sidekick brand — the one you always go to for that particular need. The common noun ties back to the function of the service, while the proper noun personifies the brand and connects it to the peer-to-peer element of the platform. Plus, the name has what Carrie Bradshaw refers to as “zazazu” — the chemical reaction that creates great relationship chemistry. That spark is there naturally, and Dolly has been using that to cheeky effect in recent advertising with their Muck Foving campaign. 

Look: There is ideal symmetry between the ascenders and descenders of the letterforms, making Dolly a visually pleasing name. Additionally, capital D’s can be containers for fun and distinctive design elements, giving the brand lots of room to play around with the look of the logo in the future.

Sound: It’s short, sweet and highly memorable, and there’s no ambiguity on how to pronounce it. Plus you would never tire of saying “Hello, Dolly here. How can we help?” Extra delight for musical theater fans. 

Distinction: Its brevity and charm instantly make the Dolly name stand out in the market. It is also the only brand name in its category to employ a proper noun. However, the originality and creativity of competitor names means Dolly has an uphill battle in moving beyond its functionality to embody an emotional purpose as well. Dolly is a young brand with big plans, so it will be fun to see where they take the idea of a company created to carry the heavy loads.

Britt Stromberg

Strategy Director

Britt Stromberg is the Co-Founder of States of Matter and our Director of Strategy. When you put your business and brand in her hands, she will think crazy carefully, listen to her gut, sleep on it—then do the research to be certain.

Filed under: What's in a Name?

Tagged with: Naming, Dolly, Branding