What’s in a name? The Story Behind The Big Red Tomato Company
The question I am most asked is why is The Big Red Tomato Company called The Big Red Tomato Company? After all, we aren’t big, we aren’t red and we don’t grow (or sell!) tomatoes. This is the story behind why the Big Red Tomato Company is called the Big Red Tomato Company.
“While driving through France a few years ago, my family and I were enchanted by the hundreds of storybook cows grazing in lovely pastures right next to the road. For dozens of kilometers, we all gazed out the window, marveling at the beauty. Then, within a few minutes, we started ignoring the cows. The new cows were just like the old cows, and what was once amazing was now common. Worse than common: It was boring.
Cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring. They may be well-bred cows, Six Sigma cows, cows lit by a beautiful light, but they are still boring. A Purple Cow, though: Now, that would really stand out. The essence of the Purple Cow — the reason it would shine among a crowd of perfectly competent, even undeniably excellent cows — is that it would be remarkable. Something remarkable is worth talking about, worth paying attention to. Boring stuff quickly becomes invisible.”
Business that think small, stay small.
When setting up the company my wife and I thought of many names. We wanted the business to be different, we wanted it to be remembered and we wanted it to be talked about.
We started off thinking about the names of brands that we liked and what we liked about them. Apple being top of the list. We talked about what we liked about Apple, and what images popped in our mind. We liked the freshness and the coolness of the brand, but for ourselves we wanted something a little bit warmer.
After a lot of back and forth we eventually settled on Tomato, for several reasons:
- popular fruit
- popular plant for amateur gardeners
More importantly we felt that growing tomatoes was a little like starting and growing a business.
But most importantly, it’s fun and reflects what business should be about and our personality. We may talk about serious subjects, but hopefully in a lighthearted way.
The big and red were added because the objective of growing a tomato is to have a nice big juicy fruit. And we want business owners to build nice big businesses.
I can remember where we came up with the name. We were on holiday, sitting on sun beds and I swear we had not been drinking cocktails!
The best ideas do not always come about in the most ordinary of locations!
At seminars and conferences people always come up to me and ask “what does The Big Red Tomato Company do then?” – not only is this a great ice breaker, it is the start of a conversation. Conversations are something that businesses are crying out to do with their customers and clients.I’ve now crafted a short statement which I use to explain things and continue the conversation.
At the end of each event I attend, the name people typically remember is the Big Red Tomato Company.
In the minds of the customer or client, the price charged is reflected by the mental evaluation of the following:
Selling price = True Value + First mover advantage + Product differentiation
As our reputation grows and strengthens and the number of clients we help gets larger, our reputation and product differentiation will increase and consequently our service will become more in demand. This in turn will allow us to charge more for our services.
As a company providing professional services, some people think that our name doesn’t sound very ‘professional’.
What does that mean? Does it mean that we don’t sound like a Price Waterhouse or Deloitte?
In the world of consultants, interim managers and coaches all too many people use their own name or initials.
You can’t be remarkable by following someone else who’s remarkable.
You have to be a leader.
As we don’t have a big budget, if we used my own name, it would be lost in the hundreds of other large and small firms who sound ‘professional’.
In other words we would be one of the cows in the story above.
We’d be boring.
We want to work with exciting clients, who will challenge us and help us grow. We want to work with clients who want to be different and want to change.
To quote Seth Godin :
“So it seems that we face two choices: Either be invisible, uncriticised, anonymous, and safe or take a chance at true greatness, uniqueness, and the Purple Cow. The point is simple, but it bears repeating: Boring always leads to failure. Boring is always the riskiest strategy. Smart businesspeople realize this and work to minimize (but not eliminate) the risk from the process. They know that sometimes it’s not going to work, but they accept the fact that that’s okay.”
So that’s what our name means to us.