March 8th, 2016
The moniker debacle.
By the moderately well-named Steve McKeown, Creative Director at Brokaw
Recently, we’ve taken on a few naming projects here at the agency. No big, right? We’ve named lots of stuff before: startups, retail products, pasta dishes, you name it. (See what I did there?) And a lot of us have kids, so that means we’ve even named human beings. With real names. You know, for people. For their whole lives. (No pressure.)
But no matter what it is, when we’re strategically developing a brand’s name, there are a few basic objectives we strive for:
- Be unique and ownable.
- Be a link to the brand’s story.
- Be phonetically appealing.
- Be easy to remember.
With all of that in mind, naming a startup, or a donut shop, or a whatever, should be easy, right? Not so fast. In recent years, it’s become a huge pain in the ass. Why? Because of the Internet.
Everyone who wants a name needs a website. With an original domain name. And with over 250 million of them in use on the Internet, everything from nerdworld.net to catscatscats.com is taken. For real.
So what does that leave us with? A lot of room for creativity. Here are a few paths to take:
A made-up word.
That’s right: Zappos, Etsy, Plaxo, and the jillion other nonsensical names out there do a fine job of having a unique sounding and hopefully memorable namesake. And a lot of times, they’re just fun to say. A possible downside – you may sacrifice any descriptive quality that might help consumers know what you’re selling. (I’m not sure what a Yobongo is, but it does sound pretty cool.)
A mashed-up word.
Think Fitbit, Mibblio, and well, Mashable. If you can’t use the one word that’s going to tell the complete story as simply as possible, slam two together garanimals-style (great name, btw) and let those two words do the job of one. Sidenote: A fancy word for this is “portmanteau.” Which would also be a good name…but it’s taken.
A made-up story.
Don’t have an interesting backstory of how you invented your widget while backpacking through New Zealand during an eclipse? Who cares? Time to fabricate some magic. Warby Parker, the online glasses site, is a combo of two Jack Kerouac character names. (And I always thought he was just a hipster spectacle designer guy in Brooklyn.) One Kings Lane is a home decor shopping site. It is not located on One Kings Lane. That’s not a place. They made it up. But it sounds cool and all Anglo-European, so now I want to buy their pillows.
So even though there are about 250 million domains already taken, that’s no excuse to fail at finding an amazingly original and memorable name. Just be sure to check out its availability on GoDaddy.com (which was almost named BigDaddy, but that domain was taken. P.S. Don’t go there.).