What's In A Name?
“Why?” is an incredibly powerful question that I have mastered by observing my son Robert when he was five. All parents will recognize that phase when your offspring questions everything you say. “Eat some fruit” leads to “Why,” which leads to “Because it is good for you,” which leads again to “Why?”
I have come to rely on “why” in business a lot. Stripping layer upon layer is a very powerful approach to get to true insights. You should try it. (I hear you thinking: “Why?” -- but I think I just answered that question.)
In this light, I would challenge most app makers and startups to think about “why” when they are considering name options for their business. It seems that a naming convention has been established that has me asking “why” frequently.
(Note: I used Crunchbase and the Apple App store as my research tools, so I am not being totally scientific. Especially because I conveniently omitted any app or startup whose name actually made sense.)
Here are the naming trends I’ve I observed:
Random words as names: What does “uber” have to do with ordering taxis or limos? Or Europe’s Uber wann-be “Blacklane,” for that matter? There are over a million apps across the Apple and Android app stores. I am venturing that at least a third fall into this category. The random words approach can also be found in startup land. For example “Village Laundry Service,” which is … an Indian VC.
Just put the letter “r” at the end: Tumblr. Flickr. Domainr. Levitatr. Txtr. Blottr. Growthr. Splatr. Consumr. Need I go on? Twitter and Blogger clearly missed an opportunity when they created their names -- and thus will fail. Mark my wordr.
Just put a random period somewhere: Samplicio.us (an online research tool like Survey Monkey), Sher.ly Inc. (a SaaS company) and Parse.ly (analytics platform) are just a few examples. It is hard.ly origin.al.
Misspelled on purpose: Lyft. Hukkster. QlikView. VuClip. Prysm (which was first known as Spudnik). Really, guys? Of all the naming trends, this one “grindrs” me the most.
I guess naming your business is really hard (and I will readily admit that I failed in the originality department for myself). I’ll add my two cents and suggest you follow a few simple rules:
1. Keep it short and simple.
2. Have it relate to your business.
3. Or, make it relevant to you as the business owner -- or relating to the story of your business.
In this era of storytelling, it might be a good idea to have your business name be a story in its own right. Yelp relates to Yellow Pages. Google comes from the mathematics term “googol.”
However, if your story has to start each time with “Why did you guys choose “Brood.je” as the name for your dry-cleaning delivery service?,” it might have been wiser to choose a different name. And then don’t go for Bubblr or Suddz. Serious.ly!