Defining a new category
When first meeting with PODS company founder and president Pete Warhurst, the immediate goal was getting from 70 “boxes” rented to over 100 in use. The problem was that the existing name “Portables” was creating confusion and inhibiting sales. It required five to ten minutes on the phone to explain that these new mobile storage units were not outhouses, or portable classrooms (both of which had negative connotations). This was clearly not scalable if the company was to grow. They needed a more intuitive name, one that spoke for itself, one that sounded “container-ish”. Hidden in all of this was a golden opportunity. If the name could capture the essence of this new service, it could become the household word, the “Kleenex” of the industry.
Normally we’re not big fans of acronyms. But as with all things, there’s always an exception to the rule. In this case we were looking for a word that could imply storage, but without all the baggage and stigma of “Portables”. We hit upon the word “pod”, as in a pea pod. After playing with the plural of the word, PODS, it seemed like there was an acronym hiding in there somewhere. The words “Portable” and “Storage” jumped out right away. The trick was the “O” and “D”. Since the service was one that could be ordered in a matter of a day or two, the phrase “On Demand” popped to mind.
The the whole thing came together... PODS – “Portable On Demand Storage”
This was one of those rare perfect storms where everything just came together and clicked. The name worked on a number of levels, communicating a sense of storage, while providing a literal explanation in its spelled out form. The name has come to define the industry and leads in every category. Others have come along and tried to imitate the naming strategy (i.e. SAM – Storage and Moving, UNITS – Unique, No-hassle, Individual, Transportable Storage) but with less success. That’s why it’s important, if you are one of the first in a new category, to create a brand name that consumers will naturally adapt.
Door-to-Door Storage was also an early entrant in the field, but their brand name was more difficult to articulate. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so do consumers. They need easy ways to communicate new ideas. So keep it short, sweet, and simple. If you do, you’ll have an effective brand name – one that gets shared more between consumers and therefore costs less to promote. And that’s not just smart... it’s brilliant!
"For the record, changing our name to PODS was one of the best moves we ever made."
Pete Warhurst, President/Founder