Ask Frank Hessler, founding CEO of Schlafender Hase, how the company name “Sleeping Rabbit” came about and a wry smile crosses his face. “We’re sometimes asked this by customers, and to be honest, it’s a simple story. It dates back to the early 2000s when we used a code name to talk about the company. I know it’s usual to have a generic code name like “New Company”, but we were different. The inspiration was a fluffy toy hanging on a rear vision mirror of a friend’s car. We found this amusing, and somehow this fluffy rabbit just established itself. We used it so often that the name stuck.”
But didn’t he ever consider changing the name? Not really, Frank Hessler says. “The name fit in with the initial idea of an agency for a new type of communication in the digital age. We went on to develop TVT, the Text Verification Tool, and because the name had already received positive feedback, we kept it.”
Raised eyebrows and rolled eyes
But there were a few sceptical voices. “When I first mentioned the name to my family, they rolled their eyes and thought I’d gone off the rails. How could I name a company that? But it’s always been a good opener to business discussions, and at trade shows people often come up to us and ask about the name. It’s a great conversation starter.”
The name did, however, make ordering a pizza more difficult: “The first time we called the local pizza restaurant to get a delivery to our new office, they thought we were pulling their legs. They refused to take our order. It didn’t take long, though, before everyone realized we were very serious.”
A tongue twister for non-German speakers?
“Yes, it isn’t easy to pronounce for everyone, and at one time we even considered placing pronunciation help on our website. In the end, we decided to let our name stand as it is.”
“There are lots of playful associations: the rabbit sleeping with one eye open, for example. That’s my favourite, because it signifies attentiveness and the rabbit gently watching over the user of TVT to make sure text and artwork are error-free. And there’s something reassuring about the logo of a friendly rabbit in watchful repose. A rabbit sleeping with one eye open is full of irony and mystery.”
“Secondly, the rabbit and German name are highly unusual in the context of the pharmaceutical industry, a core segment for TVT. ‘Schlafender Hase’ is very distinctive. It captures the idea that we’re bringing something new and unique to the customer.”
Always alert to find mistakes
“More than once, TVT users have told us they’re comforted when they see the logo. Proofreading is a stressful and often thankless task. When things go right, no one notices. When something goes wrong, everyone notices, because you might have a product recall, or perhaps patients’ lives are at risk. So I like to see it this way: TVT provides highly reliable automated text and artwork verification, and the rabbit sleeping with one eye open is a very reliable creature in your workflow. It saves proofreaders stress, heartbreak and even their health. And it saves pharmaceutical companies avoidable product recalls and assures the safety of patients.
“Our name and reputation for accuracy and reliability are one,” concludes Frank Hessler. “If we ever changed our playful name, I think many of our customers – and employees would be disappointed,” he adds with that same wry smile.