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”
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.
Unless your plan is to be seen as trendy, flash-in-the-pan-flame-out.
If they name it “Googly Eyes”, Apple’s version could be “iPatch”
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!
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.
The name a Naming Firm gives itself provides clear insight into to the kinds of names they believe in – and how good at naming they really are.
If a Naming Firm cannot manage to give itself a distinctive, memorable name that sets it apart from a slew of competitors, that can evolve into a strong brand and come to represent more than just the goods and services being offered, how can they possibly convince others that what they fail to do for their own Naming Firm they can somehow magically do for clients?
Here is a competitive analysis of the names of Naming Firms
It’s because the companies that chose these names understood all the things the right name could do for them, and decided they wanted it all:
1. Clear separation from your competitors
2. Demonstrate to the world that you are different
3. Reinforce a unique positioning platform
4. Create a positive and lasting engagement with your audience
5. Be unforgettable
6. Propel the brand through the world on its own, becoming a no-cost, self-sustaining PR vehicle
7. Provide a deep well of marketing and advertising images
8. Rise above the goods and services you provide
9. Completely dominate your category
Many new service and food businesses today are looking for the most shocking, funny, sexy, or downright rude name they can think of, in order to stand out from the crowd. Drug references are also big these days, as with the marijuana-themed sub-shop CHeBA Hut (“Toasted” subs) and smoothie chain Maui Wowie (the latter has nearly 600 units).
One of my favorite examples is budding 7-unit franchise chain We Do Lines, which is in the business of painting parking-lot stripes. Co-founder and president Chris Coursi told me the three founders grasped immediately that their name would have to be memorable or they’d be just another face in the crowd, competing with big, established contractor firms.
The Ridgefield, Conn.-based trio experimented with a few names before deciding that one was the most memorable. Going edgy turned out to be a key factor in their business’s success. “It ended up being our best form of advertising,” he says.
Going for the giggles
For chains with a younger audience, the giggle factor increasingly comes into play. At barbecue chain OinkADoodleMoo, co-founder Mark Peebles says he blurted out the nonsense phrase once on a car trip with his then 3-year-old son, while they were having a funny-animal-noise contest.
It got a laugh. A pro griller who was competing on the professional barbecue circuit, Peebles immediately thought it would be a good name for a barbecue restaurant.
Families flocked when the first restaurant opened in 2006. Now, the Dayton, Ohio-based restaurant chain has four units open and two more under construction.
For more sassy brands, click here to see my favorite 10 Crazy Brand Names at Growing Chains.
Seriously. Seeking funding.
From upstart American car company Equus, it’s the “Bass” . Yep, Bass.
Another unforgivable branding blunder is the choice of the horse logo on the grill. This $250k muscle car is competing on price with Ferrari and with Mustang for muscle (and looks) – each of which already have an iconic horse logo. Equus’ choice is a lame horse indeed.
Nice and nerdy name – well done. It’s kind of a acronym for: “carbon nanotube digital integrated circuit.” Close enough – acronym origins are mostly forgotten anyway (PDF stands for…Anyone?)
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are hollow cylinders composed of a single sheet of carbon atoms.
They have exceptional properties which make them ideal as a semiconductor material for building transistors, the on-off switches at the heart of electronics.
For starters, CNTs are so thin – thousands could fit side-by-side in a human hair – that it takes very little energy to switch them off.
“Think of it as stepping on a garden hose. The thinner the pipe, the easier it is to shut off the flow,” said HS Philip Wong, co-author on the study.
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