What’s in a name | McConks

What’s in a name | McConks

Choosing a name for a company is rather difficult. It needs to be memorable and it needs to be meaningful. Ideally, it needs to be different to anything else in your industry, and ideally, you want the website .com domain to be available. Trying to meet all of those requirements can be tricky.

When we set up McConks, Jenny and Andy spent weeks, if not months, trying to come up with a company name. The working name was Perfect Trim Ltd, which for those people who know about hydrodynamics, boardsports or sailing, means something. But for most people, it just sounded like a cheesy hairdressers, so it couldn’t last.

Authentic names for authentic kit

But we had no idea what should come in its place.  We were very clear what sorts of names we didn’t want.  We didn’t want to just copy a popular company name, so names like Red Fin or Blue Paddle were ruled out. We didn’t want to restrain ourselves by geography, so names like Corinium SUP or Cotswold SUP were  not considered. We also wanted the name to be authentic, and avoid the whiff of cultural misappropriation, so we stayed clear of Hawaiian or other foreign sounding names. We didn’t want anything that sounded too grand, elitist, or elite performance. As we were designing a company that focused on honesty, quality and performance rather than marketing, image and design, the name couldn’t be too contrived either.  

It was Jenny who first pointed out that our family name was memorable and unique in terms of brand names. Andy was sceptical at first, but some soft market testing did seemed to confirm Jen’s brainwave. And we also found out some interesting facts:

  • People reported that using a family name makes a brand seem trustworthy. People think that if you’re willing to put your name to your products, you must be confident in them (we are!). Customers also think you’re more likely to be around for longer, and you won’t sell out to a bunch of venture capitalists just to make some filthy lucre (we won’t!).
  • We weren’t the only people put off by the whole fake Hawaiian or indo thing. It turns out that quite a lot of people are rather fed up of names that they don’t know how to pronounce.  Interestingly, some people felt that the language used in watersports in general was deliberately used to make newcomers feel excluded, and this was accentuated by product names in hard to pronounce languages.

So we decided that McConks sounded just a tiny bit cooler than McConkey, and was easier to fit onto products than a longer name. But we also decided that all of our product names should say what they are, rather than try to impress a sense of coolness through implied elitism. And that led to our simple ‘Go’ branding for our SUP boards.

As an example, rather than call our new 14″ touring boards something that sounded or looked cool, such as …

‘O hele hou’


‘આગળ જાઓ’

 ‘lumayo pa’

‘qhubekela phambili’

‘falbh tuilleadh’ or even

‘mynd ymhellach’

…we went for the much simpler ‘Go Further’.  Because, well, that’s what this board is designed to do. And if we were buying a new SUP board, that’s the type of honesty and clarity that would appeal to us.

And that keep it simple ethos runs through all of our products. The only slight exception to this is our range of sunglasses, where each pair seemed to have their own character reminiscent of beautiful sandy shores, and where they cried out to be named after the amazing welsh coastline (where Andy grew up).

This principle also goes further than just names as well.  Our entire product range is driven by function and form, not by marketing or design for design’s sake. We use a small team for design, and don’t pay mega bucks to design houses to come up with our prints and designs. And yes, that does mean that we have a smaller range of colours and designs that some of our competitors. And yes, some of our products may look a little less pretty than others (although people tell us we’re hard on ourselves, and they like the simple design).  But we think that’s OK because it’s what we would want as a customer. 

We’ve reinvested every penny we make in McConks into improving the product quality and performance. We don’t give a dividend or profit to shareholders, and when the company is doing well, we invest more money into our GoInspire initiative rather than taking the money out.  We’ve made products that we would buy as a strapped for cash family.  And we know we’d rather pay for a top quality bag that will last for years, rather than one that looks pretty and falls apart on the first flight.  And if it costs 30% more for one in pretty colours, that’s a luxury rather than a necessity! And we’d rather pay for a Go Pro Mount that keeps that camera safe in all conditions, rather than risk losing the amazing, once in a lifetime footage we’ve just captured of that humpback whale fluking! 

So for us it’s all about principles and priorities.

Our priority is making the best products at the best price. And our principles are that we do this ethically, sustainably, fairly, and honestly.

If those priorities and principles mean something to you, then you’re just the sort of customer we love 😊, and we think you’ll love us too!