How do self storage companies choose their names?
In round numbers there are about 600 self storage companies with about 1200 storage facilities in the UK. Their names vary enormously from the very geographical such as Gloucester Self Storage to the more fanciful such as Green Door Self Storage.
There are some invented or merged words, such as Justeel Ltd or Shurgard; and some contain imperatives and even rhyme, such as Ease The Squeeze.
Many names simply reflect the company’s original business, which may be closely related, such as PP Removals Limited.
Exotic and puzzling names stick in the mind, with Kangaroo Self Storage and Fuzzy Lemon Self Storage being two notable examples. Such names have the additional advantage that in legal and trademark terms they are most easily protected against copying.
1st for Storage – but also most memorable for customers
Presumably some storage companies choose names that will be listed first in directories such as A&A Self Storage or 1 Big Self Store. Of the list of companies in the sector, four companies’ names start with “A1”; but numbers do even better in most directory listings, so there are five self storage companies with the word “1st” at the beginning of their name.
Animals are often chosen for trade names and, of the animals, squirrels are popular in self storage for obvious reasons ‒ witness Squirrel Self Storage and Squirrel Storage Ltd.
Quite a few companies use colours, such Green Self Storage and Red Self Storage, and of course the UK’s second biggest self storage company, Big Yellow.
And Purple Squirrel Storage combines both a colour and an animal.
Are ice cream sellers like self storage companies?
Economists point out that for traders the socially optimum position isn’t always the same as that which works best for the trader, and this theory is demonstrated in the naming of self storage companies.
In the classic case of the ice cream seller you should imagine a beach on which two competing ice cream sellers are located and consider how far along the beach they should park their vehicles, assuming that the potential customers are evenly distributed. The socially ideal ‒ the outcome which is best for the public ‒ is for one to be parked a quarter of the way along the beach and the other three-quarters of the way along: that minimises the average walk that customers have to make to get to the nearest vendor.
However, this is not an equilibrium situation: it will be better for each of the sellers to move towards the other as by doing so they lose no business but will gain some. Hence, they each move towards the other and they end up next to each other in the centre of the beach, illustrating that the ideal position for them individually is not the same as the social optimum.
Self Storage companies may be similar in their naming. For the customer, it would be best if the names were not only descriptive but distinctively different, so that the storage offerings would not be easily confused. But it may suit the companies to move to the middle; hence you have names such as Cambridge Self-Service Storage and Cambridge Storage Centres, or even Lock n Leave and Lock and Leave (yes, these are different companies, but at least not neighbouring geographically).
Storage respectability and dependability
Some storage companies have presumably taken the view, as many firms of solicitors and undertakers do, that being boring-sounding is good for business if it implies staid dependability and maybe even generational continuity – so there are self storage firms called Formal Self Storage and Stable Self Storage, and name-bearing companies such as Charles Wood & Sons and J. Simpson Storage.
Starting the name with the definite article (“The”) may also be taken to assert that this is THE place to store your stuff, and there are 12 firms whose names emphatically start with the word “The”, for example The Secure Store and The Storage Place.
Container-based storage companies are often happy to advertise the fact that they use containers and many have “container” in their names, and seven of them start with “container” or “contain” (e.g. Container Parks; Containastore).
At the trendier end of the spectrum are companies using “4” instead of “for”, and “R” instead of “are”. Other examples of such trends in naming are: Need 2 Store and Ucanstore (actually, 10 different self storage companies start their names with a “U” meaning “you”).
Geographical self storage versus descriptive
Many storage firms want the customer to know where they are ‒ if the company’s name includes the town, and the potential storer lives in that town or nearby, it will appeal. This also highlights an odd thing about self storage: people like to be near their possessions, even if they aren’t likely to visit them except when moving into or out of their storage unit.
Some of the geographical names are very local, such as Waveney Self Storage (based in Beccles, on the river Waveney); and some quite wide-ranging, such as Mid Wales Storage.
Descriptive names often seek to lure in the user, such as Low Cost Self Storage or Simply Store.
Increasingly companies will choose names that will feature keywords on a typical Google search; so, for example, Dulwich Storage will come top when potential users search for “self storage in Dulwich”.
The desire to have the word “store” or “storage” in the name is both helpful to customers in being descriptive of the business and is effective with search engines ‒ both of the largest US self storage companies fit that pattern: U-Store and Public Storage.
So whilst it’s not obvious what the best name is for a storage company, there can be little doubt that names really do matter, and new firms in the self storage industry will probably be choosing names that are memorable, descriptive, appealing and very findable by search engines.