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Email Variables: The Company Natural Name

Let's do a quick, overly simple, thought exercise. Which email looks more personalized?

This isn't a trick question - B (UNICEF) is the correct answer. But why?

You might say something like "it's just common sense, everyone knows that the United Nations Children's Fund is called UNICEF and even if you didn't, a quick Google search would tell you in 1 second". And that's exactly right.

So what's the word we use to refer to "UNICEF" as opposed to "United Nations Children's Fund"? Well, the industry standard term is Company Natural Name.

What Is A Company Natural Name?

A Company Natural Name is the conversational, or slang, way of referring to a company. Put simply, it's how you would most likely refer to the company if you actually worked there and were having a casual chat with a colleague.

A Company Natural Name is usually:

  • An Acronym (eg. 'UNICEF' for United Nations Children's Fund)

  • A Short-hand word or Nickname (eg. 'Citi' for Citibank)

  • The Official Company Name itself (eg. Facebook)

Why Should You Use The Company Natural Name As An Email Variable?

Now back to our example. Imagine a situation where you're emailing hundreds or thousands of companies. UNICEF might be one of them, but it's just as likely you'll be emailing niche companies that you've never heard of before. So how do we achieve the same level of personalization that we did in email B as we scale the number of companies that we need to prospect to?

The answer is to use email variables, and Company Natural Name is one of the most foundational variables we use in cold emailing. Having this variable immediately humanizes you sets you well above the thousands of mail merge robots that are typing things like would you like to grab coffee near the Walgreens Boots Alliance office next week?

I strongly suggest you add a Company Natural Name variable to every single prospecting list you build and every single email you send (assuming you're not already doing so). It's an incredibly easy way to personalize your emails - and it's especially important when you're prospecting at scale.

How To Find The Company Natural Name

Here's the process we like best:

  1. Google Search the company and scan the results for any short-hand reference to the company name.

  2. Browse through the company's website homepage.

  3. Browse through the company's About Us and Contact pages.

  4. Scroll to the bottom of the webpage and look at the footer. Specifically, try to find a link to a Terms & Conditions, Terms of Use or Privacy Policy page.

Below are 4 examples that will help you understand the nuances of a Natural Name, and how to go about finding it in a variety of situations.

Example 1: Procter & Gamble (P&G)

The fastest way to find a Company’s natural name is by heading straight to their website. For Proctor & Gamble, we immediately find two potential Natural Name candidates:

  • "PG" which is their email domain name

  • P&G which is shown on the logo right in the middle of the menu bar.

If you've never heard of Proctor & Gamble before, you may not know which to select, so we'll do a bit more scanning. As we quickly hover over some of the menu items, the answer reveals...

Seeing "P&G History" immediately tells us that Proctor & Gamble employees probably refer to their business as P&G when they're chatting amongst themselves on lunch break. Case closed.

Example 2: Bank of Singapore

Some industries love acronyms more than others. Banks absolutely love acronyms, so it was quite peculiar when I went to the Bank of Singapore homepage and couldn't find an acronym to save my life.

Sometimes a Company's Natural Name is the same as it's 'Official' Name, but don't jump to this assumption too quickly. You really need to investigate as much of the website as you can (we recommend spending up at least 20 seconds on a company's website trying to find their natural name before giving up).

My 20 second search usually takes me to the About Us page on the website. From there, I quickly clicked through the "Who we are" and "Why choose us" sections before getting to the "Our subsidiaries" section. It was here that I found the clue I needed.

Even though Bank of Singapore is using "BOS" mostly to refer to subsidiary businesses, I could safely assume that if I worked there, I'm probably calling them BOS as well, so case #2 was closed.

Sometimes a Company's Natural Name is the same as it's 'Official' Name, but don't jump to this assumption too quickly.

Example 3: Lum Chang Holdings

We often mistake Natural Names for acronyms (or ticker symbols), and this can be very wrong!

This example - Lum Chang Holdings - will show us why making this assumption can get us into trouble. We started with their website and immediately were greeted with "Lum Chang" in the domain name and in the company logo. Looks promising...

However, because I've never heard of this company before, I'll always make a quick stop to their About Us page before making my final decision. The Corporate Profile sub-page throws us a curveball...

Here, we see that Lum Chang Holdings Limited refers to itself as Lum Chang. However, the group however has multiple subsidiaries and one of them, Lum Chang Building Contractors, is is referred to as LCBC. See how they refer to their construction arm using the acronym LCBC.

In this case, your intuition is as good as mine, but I made the call that the overwhelming evidence pointed to "Lum Chang" and not "LC" as the Company Natural Name, so Lum Chang it is. Case #3 closed.

We often mistake Natural Names for acronyms (or ticker symbols), and this can be very wrong!

Example 4: Dun & Bradstreet

Let's look at one last example here: Dun & Bradstreet.

Our usual first stop at the homepage tells me that the domain name ("DNB") might be a good candidate, but nothing else on the homepage backs that up.

Sometimes, going to the About Us or the Contact Us pages don't yield much either. In this case, I like to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and find something that's usually hiding in the footer - the Terms of Use legal statement. It was here that the alarm bells started ringing...

D&B. D&B. D&B. D&B. I think you get the idea. I'm confident that D&B is the Company Natural Name for Dun & Bradstreet. Case #4 closed.

If nothing immediately jumps out at you, try scrolling down to the footer of the webpage and looking for a Terms of Use or Privacy Policy page. These pages will often reveal the Company Natural Name.

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