We chose the name College Ave Student Loans because it is a logical name for a company that helps students and families pay for higher education. We understand that navigating through the college process often produces confusion and anxiety, and we did not want to select a name that might create more ambiguity. As a result, we wanted a name that clearly described what we do. It was easy for us to agree on that. Actually selecting a name was not so easy!
I viewed getting the name right as critical to our success – it would be the foundation for our brand’s growth and perception. We needed a name that allowed us to project our values to our customers without confusing them about the nature of our business.
The first step in the process was to define clearly what our company stood for and what values we would deliver to our customers. Many of us on the College Ave team are recovering corporate executives. Large companies are notorious for making things more difficult than they need to be – for customers, for employees, for everyone. Plus, our business supports a goal that is aspirational – going to college – and a journey that can be daunting – paying for college. But, there is no reason why borrowing should be as confusing as other lenders make it. So, we set out to achieve one objective – make the process of getting a student loan simple and clear.
Translating that goal – simple and clear – into a name was more difficult. Some landmark brands earn ubiquity and an unbreakable association with their products through years of investment and repetition: Google. Starbucks. Disney. We, however, were trying to solve a problem today, and we did not believe we had the luxury of selecting a name that was not immediately associated with what we do. As a result, we wanted one that described our business immediately – more akin to Swissair, Coca-Cola, or Dunkin’ Donuts.
With that in mind, we decided that the company’s name would contain the words “Student Loan.” We just had to find a name or phrase that would accompany those two words.
We probably tossed around at least 25 names. Simple Student Loans, College Way Student Loans, College 360 Student Loans. We were trying to find a name that kept things simple and clear but was still meaningful to our customers. And we did not want the name to box us in – it had to allow our values to shine through.
Somewhere along the way, one of our founders came up with College Ave. It was so simple and so obvious that we thought someone must be using that name, but to our great surprise and satisfaction, it was ours to have. It cleared the trademark search, and the URL was available to purchase.
There were also a few added benefits to this name. First, there was a sense of familiarity as so many of our customers have a street called “College Ave” on their campus. Second, avenues connote pathways or journeys, and all of our customers are on such a journey. And finally, not everyone takes the same path. In fact, our brand promise is to be simple, clear, and personalized, recognizing that the path is different for a student doing a two year program vs. four, or one going to graduate school, or one returning to school later in life.
We tested the name with friends and family, and here we are today: College Ave Student Loans.
We are proud of our brand and the products that bear its name. Customers continue to comment on how much they like the name and, more importantly, what we stand for. Many of them tell us it reminds them of the College Ave on their campus. We even receive pictures of road signs and are asked if the company was named after that particular street. Our answer is always “Yes!”