At a recent branding seminar there was a brief discussion about why Uber was a better brand than Lyft. This really wasn’t a fair question. It should have been, why is Uber getting more traction than Lyft this early in the game of what will surely be a big industry?
Anyway, before I got around to write this column it was refreshing to see new business articles about how suddenly Lyft was catching on and catching up. They are both good new names, and I would score them equally well in a naming survey. As for how to build a brand, it takes a lot of careful attention when the service providers are freelancers driving their own cars in their own towns.
But why do they have such European sounding/spelling names? This is something I had predicted a couple of years ago. I said when we run out of English names founders will turn to foreign or coined names. It took longer than I thought, as I missed the interim step of misspelling English words on purpose. But they have both been working diligently on securing these trademarks for transportation services, even though both names have been used in many other trademark fields. And despite the fact that Lyft sure sounds like Lift to me, which is certainly a generic word that no one can trademark.
Lesson learned: A good brand doesn’t mean you automatically win at business. There are many other factors and corporate reputation grows and shrinks based on many actions and news items.
Linguistics footnote: Another new startup in the fresh fast food arena is called Lyfe. Compare that pronunciation with Lyft. Isn’t English wonderful?
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