How Xero Got Its Cool Brand Name

Cool Brand Name

Their goal was to offer a breakthrough product for small businesses. So Xero designed a cloud-based software that could be accessed on any device. Their product was designed to help accountants and bookkeepers build strong relationships with their business clients via a groundbreaking Internet platform.

The company was founded in 2006, in New Zealand, and they have more than 1 million subscribers. They’ve also been called one of the fastest growing software as a service (SaaS) companies in the world. To top it off, the firm employs more than 1,700 people from around the globe and has been identified twice by Forbes as one of the World’s Most Innovative Growth Companies.

What’s in a name?

The question is: How did Xero obtain their two syllable cool brand name?

Well according to CEO, Rod Drury, the initial idea was to find a brand that stood out as a global business player. They wanted a name that was on the same level as iconic brands like SAP and IBM including a matching, dot-com domain address.

At first they were looking for a 3 letter domain name but soon realized that these were in short supply. So they started over and names under early consideration included Accounting 2.0, Basecount and Pacioli (the inventor of double entry accounting). But none of these ideas had the punch they’d first envisioned and so they began looking at good quality 4 letter brands.

This wasn’t an easy task either and the company turned to brand consultant, Dot Johnstone for assistance. Her first suggestion was the four letter brand, Zero. However, the owner of Zero.com had an asking price that was perceived by the company as very unreasonable. Their negotiations broke down and the branding team pivoted to the name, Xero instead. They deemed this a suitable substitute for Zero.com since the letter X was often pronounced as Z in words like Xylophone and the well-known brand, Xerox.

At that time, however, the Xero.com domain was being used by a designer in New York. Still, through focused negotiation, the company was able to persuade the designer to part with the domain at an affordable and mutually agreeable price.

Super hero or super blunder?

Sometime later however, the company realized that Xero was also the name of a short-lived, comic book character from 1997. According to Drury, the character was described as “a super powered government agent.” This was a somewhat unflattering association for a professional tech accounting firm, so the Xero marketing team set about dominating their Google search results and avoiding unflattering comparisons to imaginary characters of days gone by.

Finally, the firm went public in June 2007 using the corporate name, Xero Limited, and the ticker symbol NZX. Their stock symbol was then changed to ASX in November of 2012 and the company continues to grab large portions of market share in the countries of New Zealand, Australia, the U.S. and the United Kingdom. To this day they’re considered one of the largest accounting software companies in the world.