Naming Your Startup? Don’t Stress About the Domain Name

We could not agree more. Excellent article.

Via Inc:

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:

Chris Dixon@cdixon
Names are underrated, but domains names are (increasingly) overrated. Square, Dropbox, 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

DropBox was

Facebook was

Instagram was

Twitter was

Foursquare was

Basecamp is

Pocket is

Bitly was/is

Delicious was

Freckle is

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.

Full Article

Naming Firms : The Name Of A Naming Firm Speaks Volumes

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

Why Today’s Franchise Brand Names Are So Clever… & Effective (A Naming Firm Weighs In)

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

Via Forbes:

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.

Trading Faces

NY Times summarized a study from  The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on company names, language and money:

A stock ticker symbol or company name that is easy to pronounce may be a significant factor in short-term increases in stock price, according to a report published online yesterday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Two researchers created a list of fictional stocks and then had a group of students rate them according to ease of pronunciation. “Ulymnius,” for example, was rated complex, while “Mayville” was not.

They then asked a second group to estimate the future performance of each of the stocks. As the researchers predicted, “fluently named” companies were estimated to outperform the hard-to-pronounce ones by a significant margin.

…People respond positively to easily processed information in other areas as well. For example, they are more likely to believe an aphorism that rhymes (”woes unite foes”) than one with an identical meaning that does not rhyme (”woes unite enemies”). Studies cited in the report demonstrate that people more often judge easily processed information to be true, likable, familiar and convincing than more complex data.

The Times fails to mention two other curious reports in Sunday’s PNAS, notably, “Polarized axonal surface expression of neuronal KCNQ channels is mediated by multiple signals in the KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 C-terminal domains” and “A hybrid two-component system protein of a prominent human gut symbiont couples glycan sensing in vivo to carbohydrate metabolism”, which are basically concise summaries of the Interbrand and Landor naming processes, respectively.

[ More posts about | More blogs about naming ]

Inside Landor’s Company & Product Naming Practice

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 1.13.38 PM

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 11.25.44 AM

“The new name, Enactus, was initially inspired by the idea of compounding “Entrepreneurial Action,” but it was created to transcend those roots and encompass the strong emotion that the brand evokes. The name encapsulates the intricate balance between youthful energy and a sophisticated stature that defines the organization.”

Full case study

It takes a Global Village:

“Our Hamburg and Asia Pacific offices collaborated on the name Magotan, alluding to the Latin word magnus and the kingly color magenta; tan suggests dominance…”

Full Case Study

“Landor developed the name Centravis, which directly communicates the central positioning of the brand as combining the best of all worlds. The suffix “vis” means force, or power in Latin, and underlines the ambitious and growth-oriented business strategy…”

Full Case Study.

Landor founder, Walter Landor gazing with disappointment at his half-son, Blandor.

Landor founder, Walter Landor gazing with disappointment at his half-son, Blandor.


Says Blandor the Imponderable: “I fondly recall Poppy and I attending the semi-annual wisdom tooth convention. As we sat on our haunches, grooming each other and eating our sack lunch of turkey biscotti and marshmallow toast, we would randomly jump up and shout, “Wottle up the bull throttle!”. We would then travel the 3 hours home, in complete silence, until our arrival at Mandible Station.”

More on the misspent journey of Blandor’s life.

Carbon nanotube computer debuts. Named “Cedric”.

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?)

Via BBC:

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.

Read The Full Article

S.F. Bay Bridge may be named after Willie Brown

The measure to do so has passed the State Assembly 68-0, with a Senate vote imminent.

Horrible idea. Never name anything after a living person, as their story is not yet written.

According to the, SF Chronicle, there is a big loophole in California’s naming guidelines:

A person being honored with a naming must be deceased, “except in the instance of elected officials, in which case they must be out of office.”

The Paterno Library at Penn State should be all the warning anyone needs.

How To Make A Great Car Name — Or Completely Screw It Up

A rare, refreshingly insightful article about naming, via Jalopnik:

This week, Infiniti found themselves the subject of much ridicule after their decision to rename all of their cars with a “Q-” or “QX-” prefix followed by two numbers.

It’s not like “G37″ or “JX35″ had a ton of personality, but now fans of Nissan’s luxury brand will need to make do with even vaguer, more nonsensical names like “Q60″ and “QX70.”

All of this got me thinking about car names. What makes a car’s name good or bad? Does a name have anything to do with a car’s success in the marketplace? Do names even really matter?

I believe that car names are important, and that good ones can at least help establish some appeal for the vehicle — while bad ones can backfire and make buyers ignore a car that might be great on its own.

Often, naming a car is a dance between the automaker, marketers, designers, advertising people, focus groups and other people tasked with these kinds of things, as well as going after whatever name hasn’t been used yet or just plain making something new up. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

It could be argued that for the luxury car companies, the name of the model itself is less important than the badge. People like being able to say “I have a BMW” or “I have a Lexus,” but you don’t get the same effect when you say “I own a Chevrolet.” Usually, you need to follow that by specifying whether it’s a Cruze, a Malibu or a Silverado, but a BMW is a BMW. It carries a cachet that doesn’t require elaboration with the actual model. If we follow this logic, perhaps Infiniti’s rebranding won’t be such a big deal.

Names for sporty cars are the easiest ones to get right. You need a name that invokes speed, excitement, performance, and viscousness. If it sounds like it can kill you, it’s a good sports car name. Viper, Challenger, Cobra, Firebird, stuff with “GT” in it — all good names for that kind of car.

Nissan’s Yutaka “Mr. K” Katayama is a genius for many reasons, and one of them is that he ordered that the original generation of Datsun Z be called “240Z” instead of “Fairlady Z.” He knew Americans — specifically, American men — would never buy a sports car with a name like that. I am convinced that this is why the Miata unfairly gets as much shit as does for being a “girly car.”

Read full article here

10 Questions to Ask Before Naming Your Business

From Entrepreneur Magazine:

What do I want a name to accomplish for my company?

A name can help separate you from competitors and reinforce your company’s image, says Steve Manning, founder of Sausalito, Calif.-based Igor, a naming agency. He suggests clearly defining your brand positioning before choosing a name, as Apple did to differentiate itself from corporate sounding names like IBM and NEC. “They were looking for a name that supported a brand positioning strategy that was to be perceived as simple, warm, human, approachable and different,” Manning says…

Does the name sound good and is it easy to pronounce?

Manning says the sound of the name is important in conveying a feeling of energy and excitement. You also must be sure potential customers can easily pronounce your company’s name. “It is a hard fact that people are able to spell, pronounce and remember names that they are familiar with,” he says, pointing to Apple, Stingray, Oracle and Virgin as strong names. But he doesn’t like such company names as Chordiant, Livent and Naviant. “These names are impossible to spell or remember without a huge advertising budget, and the look, rhythm and sound of them cast a cold, impersonal persona,” he says…

Is the name visually appealing?

You also want to consider how the name looks in a logo, ad or a billboard, Manning says. He points to Gogo, the inflight Internet service provider, as a good name for design purposes. “It’s the balance of the letters, all rounded and friendly, versus a word with hard, angular letters like Ks and Ts and Rs,” Manning says. Other visually appealing names include Volvo because it has no low-hanging letters and Xerox for the symmetry of beginning and ending with the same letter.

Full Article Here

Food Substitute “Soylent”, Named for Cannibalistic “Soylent Green”, raises 1 million

Via TechCrunch:

Fascinated by inefficiencies in the industrial food system, Rhinehart designed and then started living off a meal replacement he cheekily named Soylent — after the dystopian movie Soylent Green where Charlton Heston discovers that society has been living off rations made of humans [rations called “Soylent Green”].

This Soylent, thankfully, is not made of humans.

However this Soylent most definitely is:

They were only trying to raise 100k. More on how and why names with negative associations work

Stop Using CamelCase! It Carries the Stench of Failure!

CamelCase triggers an immediate visceral association with “Failed-last-wave-fly-by-night-Web-2.0 startups” in VCs and the public.

You’d hope it was common wisdom by now, but it’s not. Via Pando Daily:

Apparently every single startup got together in secret and made a New Year’s Resolution last year. The press was never told. I have never seen it written about or heard about this dealt with explicitly. But as the year rolled on I noticed something: No well-heeled startup was using CamelCase anymore…
…CamelCase is fast becoming about as cool as the flip phone.

Full Article

Why Startups Are Sporting Increasingly Quirky [Horrible] Names

From Today’s Wall Street Journal

The New York cousins who started a digital sing-along storybook business have settled on the name Mibblio.

The Australian founder of a startup connecting big companies to big-data scientists has dubbed his service Kaggle.

The former toy executive behind a two-year-old mobile screen-sharing platform is going with the name Shodogg.

And the Missourian who founded a website giving customers access to local merchants and service providers? He thinks it should be called Zaarly.

Quirky names for startups first surfaced about 20 years ago in Silicon Valley, with the birth of search engines such as Yahoo… …and Google

By the early 2000s, the trend had spread to startups outside the Valley, including the Vancouver-based photo-sharing site Flickr and New York-based blogging platform Tumblr, to name just two.

The current crop of startups boasts even wackier spellings. The reason, they say, is that practically every new business—be it a popsicle maker or a furniture retailer—needs its own website. With about 252 million domain names currently registered across the Internet, the short, recognizable dot-com Web addresses, or URLs, have long been taken.

The only practical solution, some entrepreneurs say, is to invent words, like Mibblio, Kaggle, Shodogg and Zaarly, to avoid paying as much as $2 million for a concise, no-nonsense dot-com URL…

…The challenge is to come up with something that conveys meaning, is memorable,?and isn’t just alphabet soup…

…Founders tend to favor short names of five to seven letters, because they worry that potential customers might forget longer ones, according to Steve Manning, founder of Igor, a name-consulting company…

…At Mibblio, the naming process was “the length of a human gestation period,” says the company’s 28-year-old co-founder David Leiberman, “but only more painful,” adds fellow co-founder Sammy Rubin, 35.

The two men made several trips back to the drawing board; early contenders included Babethoven, Yipsqueak and Canarytales, but none was a perfect fit. One they both loved, Squeakbox, was taken.

Finally, Mr. Leiberman thought to blend together “music” and “biblio,” the Latin root of “book,” to form “Miblio.”

“It looked like ‘MY-blee-oh’,” Mr. Rubin says. So he suggested they add a second “b” to aid pronunciation. Plus, the two b’s double as eighth notes in the company’s logo.

To come up with Kaggle, Anthony Goldbloom, 30, an Australian-born data scientist, wrote an algorithm to generate all the pronounceable combinations of letters, three syllables or fewer, whose dot-com addresses weren’t claimed.

“I was too frugal to want to pay for an [existing] domain name,” he says. Of the 700 names spit out by the algorithm, he found two finalists: Sumble and Kaggle. He dashed off an email to family and friends asking for their preferences. The overwhelming response was Kaggle. So he went with that…

…However, since moving his company to the U.S. from Australia, Mr. Goldbloom says he has discovered that Midwesterners tend to pronounce the name KAY-gel, as in “Kegel,” the pelvic-floor-strengthening exercises done by women to prevent or remedy urinary incontinence. In other words: It’s probably not the best name for an online data startup.

“The primary driver for startup naming right now is the misguided mission to find the shortest possible, pronounceable [unclaimed] dotcom address,” says Igor’s Mr. Manning.

Startups are likely underestimating their potential customers, and adding an unnecessary constraint, in clinging to short URLs, he adds…

Full Article

Naming Agencies : The Name Of A Naming Agency Speaks Volumes

The name a Naming Agency 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 Agency 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 Agency they can somehow magically do for clients?

Here is a competitive analysis of the names of Naming Agencies

Social Media Makes Giant Leap Forward With Brilliantly Named “Geofeedia”

There’s more to social discovery than keywords and hashtags.

Search by location first to find data that’s missed by traditional keyword and hashtag monitoring tools. Uncover the hidden 70% of social media content that is missed by keyword-based discovery tools. Complement traditional keyword based social listening tools with a highly contextual dataset that was inaccessible…until now.”


Landorian Logic

With the unrelenting consistency of a Borscht Belt comic, naming and branding parody site Landor continues to go for laughs with a well worn schtick:

We developed the name Centravis to communicate the brand’s positioning as “the best of both worlds” and a balance between East and West

They’ll be here all week. Try the eel!

Blandor Says Blandor the Imponderable: That’s nothing. I remember when Fannie Brice, Paul Whiteman, George Jessel, Sophie Tucker and I first got into the name trade. We were all playing a two week gig in the Sour Cream Sierras when Sophie turns to Fannie and says:

” The new name, Enactus, was initially inspired by the idea of compounding “Entrepreneurial Action,” but it was created to transcend those roots and encompass the strong emotion that the brand evokes. The name encapsulates the intricate balance between youthful energy and a sophisticated stature that defines the organization. Enactus works as a call to action—it is an invitation to students to put their skills and education into action, and it is an inspiration for the socially responsible leaders of today to help cultivate the socially responsible leaders of tomorrow.”

Everybody plotzed!

More of Blandor’s rants here.