Seamless and GrubHub Merge: Which Name Should Win?


Seamless and GrubHub are merging – but no word yet on the combined company's new name.

The two online restaurant delivery sites say the merger will offer customers more options, and enable the companies to combine technological resources. So far, the merger seems very friendly: GrubHub CEO Matt Maloney and Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky will share responsibility, as CEO and president, respectively, of the new company. But when it comes to choosing a new name, Zimmerman Advertising Chief Marketing Officer Cliff Courtney says the discussions may become heated. “You can’t get to the other side of the pool unless you let go of one side first,” says Courtney, “but letting go of your name is a big deal!” He says it will be difficult for the Seamless and GrubHub leaders to choose the best name for the combined company, because they’re too close to the issue. And it may be particularly touchy, if the best solution is choosing one name over the other. “It’s hard and expensive to start over with a new name,” says Landor managing director Allen Adamson. “You lose a lot of equity, name recognition – consumers know what they are.” Branding Experts: Which Name Should Win Courtney says it’s important to let the consumers decide which name should win. “You want to find out if there’s value in either name,” he says. “The big consideration is which name is bigger – not which company is bigger.” He says choosing the name with greater value and brand equity saves the company a lot of time explaining who they are, and the services they provide. Aside from letting the customer decide, both branding experts agree their first pick would be GrubHub. “GrubHub is more explanatory … I get it. Seamless is a little more, ‘What is that?’ It could just as easily be office supplies, or tailoring,” says Courtney. Adamson says GrubHub is a “stickier” name that is more memorable to users. “It’s more unique, and more category-specific,” he adds. Whichever name wins, Adamson and Courtney say the challenge will be making sure the transition doesn’t alienate users. “If your login doesn’t need to change, customers will be more likely to accept it,” says Courtney. Aside from logistical concerns, Adamson says it’s crucial to communicate to customers why the merger is happening, and why the name will be changing. Why Established Companies Change Names In the case of a merger, it becomes necessary to combine names, pick one or choose a new name altogether. But there are other reasons why businesses should consider name changes. “If the name has been damaged and is creating more problems than it’s solving, it may be better to start with a clean sheet of paper,” advises Adamson. It may also be necessary if your core product offering has shifted, and the current name doesn’t reflect the change in business. “If it ties you to an obsolete product or to a demographic that’s dying off, those are variables to consider,” says Courtney. If you are considering a name change, Courtney suggests choosing a name that “makes people feel good.” “Carvel has a name with meaning,” says Courtney, but only because the company has been successful for years. In contrast, he says, “Pinkberry right away puts a smile on my face … I would buy from them.” As for the recent trend in abstract names – think Google, Amazon and Monster – Courtney says there are both pros and cons. “It gives you more flexibility [to change your services] but you need to work harder to explain what you do for a living,” he says. “If the name has meaning, you don’t need to do as much work.”