Amateur Branding Hour: Hedge Fund Naming Strategies

Hedge funds are a lot like trucking companies: they're usually started by one rather strong-willed guy who gets fed up with his bosses and decides he's going to work for himself. One of the first things these egotistical entrepreneurs do is come up with a name and an identity for their companies. In both cases, the process is entertainingly amateurish, at least from a branding professional's perspective.

Trucker logos--which I study regularly from my driver's seat on the turnpikes between DC and NY--are achingly literal; I can easily imagine a trucker dictating the logo to his "artistic" sister-in-law ["It's got a map, with a scroll on it, like the Declaration of Independence. And a cross." "Put my name on a scroll, like the Declaration of Independence." "It's gotta be classy, with my coat of arms on it. And old-style writing."] They're little windows into what one man sees as important to get across: his ambition, his faith, his name.

So when the Wall Street Journal says hedge fund managers are trying to come up with names that are "soaring, mighty, fast or majestic," --and that they frequently use their own initials--it feels familiar.

The hedge fund guys who put a lot of time into it also try to sound erudite and exclusive, like they've already arrived. They feel their fund's name must somehow communicate not just their strategy or methodology, but their outlook on life; their firms are extensions of themselves. They try to assure potential investors--high net worth individuals and other fund managers--that they understand how these things are done. They're a particular kind of unabashed lifestyle marketing, with a personal touch.

And so what's important to hedge fund managers, besides Greek gods? There are the formative writers from college--I've seen Thoreau, Melville and Proust references--they presumably don't have time to read anymore. But what's most important to hedge fund guys, it seems--besides themselves--are luxe vacation spots: Aspen; mountains in Maine; that river in Idaho or Argentina where they go fly fishing; the peak near Val d'Isere with the double black diamond helicopter skiing. The Good Life. [thanks, TMN]

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: July 25, 2005.

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