Ryan McDevitt, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University

A Business by Any Other Name: Firm Name Choice as a Signal of Firm Quality

October 30, 2013 | 11:45am - 1:00pm | Cotting Conference Room | Open to public


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This paper considers when a firm's deliberately chosen name can signal meaningful information about its quality, focusing specifically on a setting in which it does: plumbing firms with names that begin with an "A" or a number receive five times more service complaints, on average. In addition, firms use names beginning with an "A" or a number more often in larger markets, and those that do have higher prices. These results reflect consumers' search decisions and extend to online platforms: plumbing firms that advertise on Google receive more complaints, which contradicts prior theoretical predictions but fits the setting considered here.​