10-YEAR SPECIAL (Part 2) – What’s in a Name ?

In this series of special articles, the founders of the company talk about the WKC story, what has and continues to motivate them, and we highlight some key milestones and adventures along the way.

This second installment – What’s in a Name? – talks about where the ‘WKC’ name comes from, a question asked countless times over the years!

What’s in a Name ?
(By Tristan Coleman – Co-founder and Director)

As one of the founders of WKC, one of the questions I get asked most often is, ‘’where does the name ‘WKC’ come from?’’.

When Ian James and I decided to set up a new consultancy business back in 2009 we were perhaps slower than most entrepreneurs in deciding upon a name for our new company. There was a brief period in which we were essentially two collaborating free-lance consultants, and I must have lost count of the number of ways that we informally referred to our ‘partnership’ during this time. As we consolidated our work activities into a recognisable company it became clear that we were going to have to decide upon a ‘proper’ name for the business. Informal nicknames such as ‘Red6’, ‘Teets’ and ‘Lou & Andy’ were simply not going to cut it!

We briefly traded under our first UAE sponsors’ name, ‘Tatweer’ (the Arabic word for ‘development’). But after having to change sponsors quite early on in our journey, creating our own identity then became even more critical.

WKC staff proudly showing off the company logo before embarking on the Durban Adventure Race, South Africa

Without any background in marketing, branding, and certainly without a budget to retain professional help, we came up with the very simple criteria of a) wanting something ‘professional’ sounding, and b) something that would be generic enough to allow us expand into other services and sectors as the company grew.

We thought about using some combination of our names, ‘Coleman James’ for example, but Ian was adamant that we couldn’t have a name that people would associate with a brand of mustard (for those not so familiar, Colman’s is an old and very famous English brand of mustard and other sauces!).

Somehow, we came up with the idea of using our wives’ maiden names. They seemed as good as any other and by then we had to come up with something pretty quickly! So that is how ‘Karlsson-Ward’ and then ‘Ward-Karlsson’ came about. We then modified the name to remove the less common, Scandinavian spelling of ‘Karlsson’, combined the two names, and added the most generic way to describe what we do (i.e. consulting), which gave us; ‘WardKarlson Consulting’.

In 2012, looking to simplify our name, we started to abbreviate ‘WardKarlson Consulting’ to ‘WKC Group’ (or just ‘WKC’). We got a professional in to help us with some simple branding and were fortunate to be able to purchase the ‘wkcgroup.com’ domain name. Nowadays all of our domestic operating companies use some variation of ‘WKC’ in their name, while our international trading and holding company retains the original ‘WardKarlson Consulting’ name.

So, in a nutshell, this is how we got from high school-style nicknames to the ‘WKC’ brand in use today, narrowly avoiding being mistaken for a brand of mustard along the way!


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