Does the AAA company ever get created now?

Posted on September 2, 2014

There are a large number of small businesses in Canada and the United States that include AAA in the name.  The reason for doing so goes back to how companies were typically found by their customers 20+ years ago – the phone book.  For those who missed the phone book, here is a sample page from one in Hurricane, Utah.


If someone was looking for your business, being placed first in the list would be ideal.  That started a trend where businesses were created with the letter A. The trend devolved further as businesses started being created with AA and AAA at the beginning of the name.  It ensured that the business would be first in the list.

But the phone book doesn’t have the same impact anymore.  Small businesses are cutting back on the amount they spend on YellowPages since their customers are finding them through Google and Facebook.  Most people use their phones to look up businesses and recycle the poor old phone book.

I don’t believe that anyone will create the AAA business anymore or at least not for the phone book motivation.  Since enough AAA businesses exist perhaps customers think the AAA stands for excellent service or top notch quality rather than the hack to get to the front of the phone book.  It also begs the question for what the AAA equivalent will be in today’s economy?  Is it amazing search engine optimization so you are placed at the top of Google’s list?  A great .com domain name?  Or a compelling Facebook page?  I suspect the answer is yes to all three questions and that requires significant expertise on the part of the small business owner or the need to adopt tools/technologies to deliver that value.

3 Replies to "Does the AAA company ever get created now?"

  • Alex Kinsella
    September 2, 2014 (7:26 am)

    Great post. I’d say that the “AAA” of today is a combination of what you mentioned – especially SEO optimisation. You could ways look at startups with names missing vowels (tumblr, Flickr, etc…) as ways of companies trying to stand out from the crowd and seem relevant.

    I know that there’s a lot of talk of using the new top level domains (.bike, .service, and hundreds more) to have a great domain name – but I don’t think the majority of consumers trust much other than .com and .net.

  • John
    September 2, 2014 (12:09 pm)

    Well, yes and no.

    App names that start with a numeral or A will appear at the top of the list of apps installed on my android:

    And writing “Add to {{insert app name}} ” will get you a the top of my options for sharing something:

    I’m actually confused as to why this hasn’t influenced app naming conventions more.

    • Mike Kirkup
      September 2, 2014 (4:55 pm)

      Interesting perspective! Android definitely does give more preference in parts of the system to alphabetic ordering. I don’t think it influences the download perspective but we should be able to determine this with App Annie or something similar. Let me dig and I will report what I find!

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