An extraordinarily interesting and challenging naming assignment: Find a name that works for “All natural fruit infused” AND it had to be “a sexy / edgy name”.
“Sliver” is spot on the confluence of these seemingly disparate ideas.
And of course the name had to be a word that “had never been used for a food or beverage anywhere in the world”. Simple.
Instagram and Snapchat are identical constructions. Each simply substitutes new words from an accepted utility name: Instant Message. Insta & Snap are synonyms for Instant, and Gram & Chat are substitutes for Message.
Since Instant Message is already a universally adopted name, you know that Instagram and Snapchat will be accepted as well. If what you’re naming doesn’t map to a two-word generic, break it down into one first.
You can do this by re-purposing an unrelated, well-known compound word, as in Apple’s Wi-Fi base station being called “Airport” – a port accessed through the air. It’s easy to remember and readily embraced because everyone knows the word Airport already.
Proposing a name like Airport to a committee will be met with immediate pushback such as, “Everyone hates the experience of an airport” or, “Last time I was there they cancelled my flight, I had to sleep on the floor and I missed my child’s birthday” or “The first thing I think of is stress, long lines and bad service”- as if any of this will make the name less successful, which of course it doesn’t.
As soon as the name Airport is applied to a Wi-Fi device the primary definition disappears, your audience puts the clever double meaning together in their heads in an “aha!” moment, and smile at the humanity you’ve brought to the game. They will think well of you and warmly embrace the name and its new meaning. And never forget it. You are immediately best of breed in their minds, having uttered only a single word.
Because this simple concept is inherently difficult for corporations, names like Airport are rare indeed – but they do happen.
This is what happens when you let the bizarre lust for a “pure” dot com dictate your name, via ValleyWag. Click pic to engorge:
“Bitly, Borkly, Barnly, Molestly, Strinkingly, Happily, Crappily, Maply, Morply, Dottly, Dootly, Godly, Angrily. It’s bad enough when every new startup is just based on the one that came before it. Now they all sound the same, too.
The Wall Street Journal says there are 161 startups that end in “ly,” “lee, or “li.” They’re all trying to get the same money, from the same people, and probably doing a lot of the same things. It is a sea of suffixes, sadly apt in the age of digital me-too-ism.
Looking at this Pinterest collection (Pinterestly.com is taken) will make you nauseous, a massive Milky Way of non-inspiration.
The Atlantic Wire quotes one startup “name consultant” who says all that needs to be said, really: “They’re planning on getting bought in a year, their name essentially doesn’t matter.” That worked for Summly, didn’t it?”
In 2002 when we named Igor, Igor.com was not available. Sure we could have registered Namingpedia.com or Igorly.com. But the name is more important than the dot com, so we live at IgorInternational.com. Just ask Elon Musk, he doesn’t own Tesla.com, they are at Teslamotors.com, and rightly not Tesla.global or Tesla.company or Tesla.guru (or any other silly gTLD)).
All single-word domains were taken back in the last century. Here is a list of the most common domain prefixes and suffixes to help you find a workaround and register a great dot com name.
And make sure to enter your new dot com name in Verisign’s Internet Official Contest for a chance to win up to $35,000.
Igor founder Steve Manning is one of three announced judges for this event, which runs for the next three months. Over 100k in prize money, top prize is 35k. Details here.
Adding a new tune to the chorus of health and wellness startups, Hi.Q is emerging from stealth with an app and funding.
Unlike Fitbit Inc., MyFitnessPal Inc. and dozens of other startups that enable users to count steps and track eating habits, Hi.Q tests health knowledge. The hypothesis is that the more users know, the better choices they will make.
The free app functions like a game with players completing quizzes and competing against others for mastery of nutrition, exercise, medical conditions and other topics. The quizzes, which prompt players to connect to articles from the Mayo Clinic, Wikipedia and other sources to learn more, include more than 10,000 questions across 300 topic areas. They test everything from the healthiest items to order at amusement parks to how to prevent osteoporosis.
“Everybody skipped a step in the quantified-self movement. The first step is education,” Hi.Q Co-founder and Chief Executive Munjal Shah said. “With this (app) we want to create a true instrument that improves knowledge that then helps with health.”
For Mr. Shah, a serial entrepreneur who sold his last company to Google in 2010, Hi.Q is as much a professional quest as it is a personal one.
The day after Google purchased Like.com Inc. for a reported $100 million, he was running a 10K race when severe chest pains forced him to stop…
As you would expect, lots of their competitors have “smile” in their names. So instead, the name Smart Mouth makes you smile.
Using the word “smile” in a name is explanative, using words that cause your audience to smile is demonstrative.
In naming & branding, as in all aspects of life, demonstrating is always more effective than explaining.
It’s also a twist on a descriptive name, saying “It’s a Smart choice for your Mouth” and that the dentist is “Smart about Mouths”.
Since parents, not kid’s are the audience, giving them a laugh about their kids makes it work, makes it warm – and unforgettable.
Design firm merges a Vespa with a Segway
To understand why they work so well, you have to get literal for a moment:
Hotwire = “to steal a car”
Pandora = “unleashed plagues, diseases & all the evils of mankind”
These types of meanings will get a name dismissed ASAP by a naming committee – a committee that would have been wrong to dismiss these names, obviously.
Consumers don’t attribute these literal, negative qualities to the companies who use Hotwire & Pandora as their company names (you don’t, do you?). But naming committees erroneously believe they will.
In each case the name is a metaphor for something about the company. Hotwiring a car is a “hack”, Hotwire positions the site as a travel hack – a way around high prices. Pandora Radio is a marketplace, positioned metaphorically as a “box full of intrigue”.
When juxtaposed in line with the company’s positioning, the names simply become interesting – they have personality. They demonstrate confidence and uniqueness. Metaphorically re-purposing the negative is what makes them so positive.
The names are provocative, differentiating and memorable.
From a business perspective, these names are a pure positive, derived from a literal negative. It’s called “The Principle of Negativity”.
Don’t fear the Negative – well executed, it’s a Positive.
“Coin” is simply one card to replace all the credit cards, bank cards, et al in your wallet. It’s linked to your smartphone via Bluetooth so you can manage all the particulars including security.
The name is iconic, definitive, memorable, viral, a deep well for marketing & advertising, lends itself to endless wordplay in the press / Twittersphere, etc.
Most remarkably it is a name that came to be even though the company could not acquire Coin.com. They did it anyway.
Coin realized that the name was too important to have it be decided by dotcom availability – they reside at onlycoin.com, which won’t hurt them one bit.
Had they bought into the ridiculous herd mentality that it’s better to have a lesser name as long as it matches the dotcom address we would instead be reviewing a marketing, branding & advertising albatross like Coinly or Coinify or Coinacopia or LoinCoin. Or worse.
In addition to the familiar .com, .net and .org domains, close to 1400 new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDS) have been green-lighted. The new gTLDs are meant to alleviate the perceived real estate shortage in the .com world.
Many startups as well as existing business see the new domains as a way to get a better name for their companies, given what they see as lack of availability of .com names. The fact is a lot of great .com real estate is readily available but not yet leveraged, due to the wrongly held belief that your company name has to match your domain exactly.
This myth has been propagated by Silicon Valley engineers pretending to know something about branding when in reality the dictum “You don’t own your brand if you don’t own the exact .com” sprang from ego and ignorance. It’s based solely upon the ability of companies with great names to register a matching domain back in 1995. This “thinking” is what brought us the current crop of ridiculously name startups such as Spokely, Hurdly, Knowly, Qwerly, Quikkly, Kasually, Optimizely, Adnauseumly. None of these names have any value from a marketing, branding or advertising perspective. The only reason they were chosen is because the unmodified .com was obtainable. The poor results speak for themselves.
Do these new gTLDs represent an opportunity for companies to register a wider variety of powerful brand names?
History says, “no”. Think about it – .biz has been around for 13 years and is still not embraced by the business community, nor is .co, which has been available for 4 years.
So far there are approximately 300 domains delegated and almost 900 more are on the way. Which of these are you going to bet your business on?
Of the new gTLDs that have been delegated, .guru appears to be in the top three in terms of registrations, but labeling yourself or your company a “guru” is likely to been seen as sophomoric as it seems, especially if thousands of other are doing it. And let’s face it, a guru doesn’t label themself a guru, wannabe gurus do.
It’s not the end of the road for .com, not by a long shot and Elon Musk’s Tesla has shown the way. Tesla, a pure Internet play, was unable to obtain Tesla.com. The herd in the world of startups would have insisted Mr. Musk could not go forward with the name Tesla without owning Tesla.com – they would have demanded it be changed to something like Electicarly.com or whatever domain was registrable. Tesla correctly went forward with a modified domain, TeslaMotors.com. In this case the modifier “motors” was chosen, but the possible modifiers are nearly infinite. Here is a list of the 5,000 most common .com modifiers.
So why does not owning Tesla.com not hurt Tesla? It’s THE GOOGLE, people. The world finds what it’s looking for on THE GOOGLE.
When we were swirling in the vortex of the existential hell of “a Naming Agency naming itself” a dozen years ago, Igor.com was not for sale. Rather than change our name to Nameify or Namenently or register Igor.biz we went with a modifier and registered IgorInternational.com.
We’ve demonstrated what we believe in naming a business and choosing a domain – pick a great name then find a modifier to register a .com.
But it’s not just us. Ask yourself, “What would Elon Musk do?”
Further reading, via Forbes: “Seven Things To Think About Before You Register That New Domain”
What do you do when your brand gets adopted by a terrorist organization? That’s the question faced by businesses with ISIS in their names–the English-language acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The most extreme strategy is to simply change the name. Mobile payment app Isis has announced it will change its name to Softcard.
But so far, this is the exception. There are 49 corporations in New York State alone with “Isis” in the name, from Isis Fitness to Isis Nails.
Patricia Luzi is the founder of Isis Essentials, selling organic oils and other products. She’s not afraid of a terrorist homophone.
“Isis is an Egyptian goddess and has been for thousands of years,” she says. “I am not affected at all.”
According to Steve Manning, founder of naming agency Igor, most Isis-branded businesses have nothing to fear because there is little chance of confusion with a violent sect of Sunni fundamentalists.
“But if your business isn’t doing well or if you’ve got a bad reputation, it’s the perfect excuse to make a change,” he adds.
This is what Manning believes was the true motivation of the mobile wallet app that is now called Softcard.
“The irony being this mobile wallet was a huge initiative that never got any traction,” Manning says. “Had it, they wouldn’t have changed the name.”
You know it, you love it, it’s TED:
TED works as a name because it’s memorable, it demonstrates something new is happening and makes potentially difficult subject matter warm, inviting and simple. It’s also very confident and comfortable with itself – always an attractive quality.
The trouble with TED is it’s a name that companies will tell you they love, want something like it for their similar venture, but would likely get killed in a corporate committee .
“TED doesn’t convey “Best and Brightest””
“TED” skews too masculine; its a man’s name. The name needs to be gender neutral to appeal to both sexes”
“The thought leaders we need to attract may not want to be associated with something so trivial sounding”
“The acronym “Technology, Entertainment & Design” is too limiting”
Would TED make it through your corporate naming process? If it is a process designed for real world efficacy & power, yes it would.
Because they understand the power of a name to define & own a category.
And to get them a staggering amount of free press / product awareness / brand name recognition.
“Typo” does everything you want a name to do. It cuts through all the clutter, it’s viral, is instantly and eternally memorable, demonstrates the notion that this is a ground breaking offering, exudes confidence, is relevant, etc.
And it makes the cash register ring.
Why is this type of name so rare and why hasn’t it been given to a keyboard before? Fear. Irrational fear based on a lack of understanding of how consumers process names. The objection is obvious – “We want to convey that we make typing a better experience, typo is the opposite. It will convey there is something wrong with our product”.
Really? As a consumer does this name make you doubt the quality of the product? No. That possibility is a wholly imagined one and exists only within a naming committee – yet fear of the baseless is the basis for most naming decisions.
The key is understanding how Typo gets its positive power from the same qualities that intuitively are seen as negative nullifiers.
You need to ensure the right filters are in place when evaluating names.
If they name it “Googly Eyes”, Apple’s version could be “iPatch”
Tesla is a fantastic name for revolutionary electric car company, but not a name that could navigate a typical corporate naming process and survive.
The death of a thousand cuts would include:
- We can’t acquire Tesla.com, we’d have to use Teslamotors.com, a non-starter. Electrificity.com is available. Let’s go with “Electrificity” instead. We can get the domain.
- Nicola Tesla’s inventions were all in AC, not the DC battery power the cars use. Edison was the man when it came to DC. Tesla advocated the opposite
- Most people don’t know who Tesla was
- “Tesla” was a big selling ’80s hair band
Most Teslas are sold online, and though they were unable to secure Tesla.com, they knew the common wisdom that going with Teslamotors.com would hurt sales was and is nonsense.
Tesla knew it was a great name even though Mr. Tesla’s work was with AC electricity, not the DC electricity the car runs on, which was the domain of Edison. They knew Tesla is a much sexier word attached to a sexier, more mysterious personality. The name Edison is just boring all around. So no one cares about the glaring discrepancy – they just associate the name with electricity.
For Tesla, going with the domain Teslamotors.com and using the name Tesla was a better move than changing the name to Electrificity or some such because they could get the Electrificity.com.
Tesla is memorable, has a great look, sound, meaning, mystery and sexiness to it. Do you walk away from that over domain availability? (Hint: “What would Elon Musk do?”)
We are all for a matching domain name, but it must be a powerful one.
Harry Shearer skewers the world of corporate naming.
Cloak has just the right amount of mystery, intrigue, fun & functionality to make this name both memorable and viral. Download on the AppStore.
Via Fast Company Design:
“Sick of running into your ex? Brian Moore was, so he developed Cloak, an app that warns you when other people are nearby
There is no shortage of social media apps out there that will loudly broadcast to everyone where you are at every second of the day. Rarer is the app that exists to obfuscate you. This, though, is the goal of Cloak, a new app that wants to keep other people from being able to find you.”
We could not agree more. Excellent article.
Many entrepreneurs when they’re deciding what to name their new business, put a lot of weight on what domain name they can acquire. But their isn’t unanimous agreement in the startup community about the importance of the right web address. Check out this tweet from serial entrepreneur and investor Chris Dixon:
Names are underrated, but domains names are (increasingly) overrated. Square, Dropbox, Box.net all started with temp domains.
The tweet was highlighted in a post offering advice on naming your startup on the Buffer Blog recently. In it, founder Joel Gascoigne agrees with Dixon and suggests you “take a look at all these successful startups which either had a temporary domain name, or which still have a different domain name to their name,” before offering this list:
Square was squareup.com
DropBox was getdropbox.com
Facebook was thefacebook.com
Instagram was instagr.am
Twitter was twttr.com
Foursquare was playfoursquare.com
Basecamp is basecamphq.com
Pocket is getpocket.com
Bitly was/is bit.ly
Delicious was del.icio.us
Freckle is letsfreckle.com
His conclusion: “Pick a great name, then add something to get a domain name. It really doesn’t matter all that much.”
Do you agree?
Yes, yes we do.
Great name, positioning, branding & advertising. They are on a mission!