About ten years ago I wrote a similarly named column after I discovered a number of companies getting new names that were really a problem in certain languages. And product names too. We had to steer one client off a naming direction that was starting to sound like the Italian word for pig’s stomach.
But by and large execs know how to watch out for these errors nowadays.
Plus they have the services of more educated international employees, the internet and perhaps a naming agency too. Either that or we are simply not seeing so many faux pars because of the vast number of new names proliferating the marketing mainstream every day.
In addition, I was interviewed by journalists more than once over the years asking where will all the new names come from and in what style?
I suggested that luckily we can run to other languages and the classics for help when we run out of English words. Guess I mostly called that wrong because now I see that by and large the business world has split into two broad camps:
- Yes we will take coined new words, but they should still be English sounding
- No, darn it. I don’t care about all other products out there using the same name. I want a known English word, or phrase, unless my lawyer says stop.
Where are the domains coming from?
If half the world is using known names, what are they doing for domains? Well interestingly enough there is a bigger problem to be solved first: How do I describe my product or services a little more uniquely? How do I get found on Google? How do I spread proper word of mouth? Despite all their requests for short names, we find clients still turn around and attached longer descriptor tails to the name. They can’t resist. And unlike the big consumer giants they don’t trust their marketing, with associated taglines and jingles, to establish a one word brand.
Once the descriptors are added, it is easy to find close or similar suitable domains.
Evolving name landscape:
While this summary above shows how people are slow to change habits, they are also like sheep that follow the shepherd. I would never have been asked for names in a style like Uber and Lyft a few years ago. But their mega success shows how strong a foreign or coined name can be, even if there is only the slightest hint at the meaning/service or brand value. Of course, most of their smaller competitors are using names that have the roots ride, share, shuttle or similar in there somewhere.
Another interesting factor always is of course trends. As a friend once told me, “The great thing about the internet is it stopped all that multimedia hype!” Remember when in the cloud(s) meant you were flying somewhere and not a mysterious place where your data is stored? And stories about Unicorns were not about big fast growing startups?
For the half the world that will embrace coined unique names to start powerful new brands, even in high tech, biotech, scientific and industrial worlds, there are enough naming agencies and consultants to guide any business quickly and efficiently through the process, including the necessary trademark legal checks. For less than what you pay your product manager this month, you can have a great new name next month if you have the right ideation team.
And finally, while many are still in denial, other domains like .ai, .io, .co, etc. are quietly making giant penetration strides.
If your business applied artificial intelligence to the science of artificial insemination, wouldn’t a great website be ai.ai ?