St. Louis is more competitive than ever and this makes the work of entrepreneurs even more challenging when it comes to ensuring your company stands out from the competition.  Between the approximately 30,000 businesses located in St. Louis and the city being named one of the 30 hottest cities for new businesses the chances of your company drowning in the noise cannot be ignored.

One of the first steps in helping your company put its best foot forward is picking a great brand name.  Companies with great branding have been shown time and time again to outperform their non-branded competitors by a healthy 73% margin.

In the past, I’ve explored how a company can stack the odds in its favor when creating a strong brand name by taking a detailed and systematic approach, but my focus now is to show how a number of St. Louis based companies have used these strategies to their advantage in the real world, no matter if they are big or small.

You’ll see that each company has made sure they focused on key aspects that help them create a strong brand:

  1. Memorable
  2. Emotional
  3. Unique
  4. Scaleable
  5. Defensible

St. Louis is home to nine Fortune 500 companies and Centene is one of them that stands out with exceptional branding.  It has grown from a small non-profit to a national leader in helping people live healthier lives.  Its brand name is an invented word with a soft feeling to it that makes it a natural fit for the role the company plays in helping people.  Leveraging the nature of an invented brand name, Centene’s marking team can connect it with powerful emotional messages to help their target audience make positive associations and remember them over the long term.  Centene is also able to scale its business to any geographic region thanks to this type of brand name as well.  Sometimes there is an urge for a new business to create a brand name that uses a city name for immediate recognition and trust.  This strategy can pay off in the short term, but later expansion becomes harder because that city name may not resonate with new audiences in other parts of the country.  Centene positioned itself with strength thanks to its brand name’s inherent uniqueness.  Competitors cannot easily choose a name that sounds similar without dealing with trademark infringement claims.

Let’s look at the St. Louis start-up scene now.  The branding element is even more critical as these young companies fight for market share and capital.  In 2018, several start-ups secured funding and it’s no coincidence that they have great brand names serving as a foundation for their future success.

One of my favorite examples is a swimwear company called Summersalt that raised $2 million in seed funds.  The brand name has a fun and relaxed feel that reinforces its mission to bring travel essentials to market and keep packing for trips stress-free and easy.  They have three elements at play, “summer”, “salt”, and “somersault”.  Each element instantly reinforces the thought of a fun, summer day for their ideal customers.

Another start-up with a brand name that reinforces all of the positive traits one could want in a brand name is  The company recently raised $8.4 million in Series A funding to advance its artificial intelligence product.  For many people, the idea of a woman named Jane who can intelligently help you with tasks invokes a positive emotion.  On top of that, there are no other “Jane” assistants out there, so the company is poised to have a unique name that is defensible as it grows.  “Jane” is also symbolic enough that it can be easily connected with more sophisticated and aspirational marketing messages as time goes on to reinforce certain emotions in customers’ minds.’s founder, David Karandish,  shared how his team came up with the brand name to reinforce all of the core emotional values important to its target audience.

“Well, firstly, Jane stands for “the Joy of Accessing Nearly Everything”. When we created this AI-Powered Teammate, we wanted communication with her to feel normal, just like chatting with the person in the cube across the way from you.  We didn’t want you to feel like you needed to be wearing a spacesuit to talk to her. We’ve found that it really resonates with both customers and users; Jane is approachable, friendly, and extremely easy to work with. That was our goal, both for the product and the branding.”

Whether you’ve been running a business for years or pioneering a new start-up, the businesses explored here serve as great examples of how branding can be applied in the St. Louis marketplace by starting with a strong brand name that consciously incorporates factors like uniqueness, emotionality, and defensibility for long-term growth and success.