The Online Name Game, Part 2

The creative process out to be simpler. Sometimes, the right answer is just coming out and saying something.

But naming is tricky. A product or a brand name wants to be unique, which tends toward the unfamiliar, while being memorable, which tends toward the familiar. You also want something short and easy to say, better to roll off the tongue in conversation. And if delivers a message, all the better.

LinkedIn, SnapChat, Pinterest, WordPress, YouTube, Reddit, Instagram and Cafe Press are successful names that are easy and semi-self-explanatory.

Then there are names that hint, like Tesla. Short. Easy to say. Doesn’t say “electric cars” but it’s tied through to electricity through the name of the inventor it pays homage to. Once a person makes the mental connections, it’s easy to remember and explain. Twitter suggests bursts of conversation, Amazon suggests hugeness, lushness and flow, FaceBook suggests keepsakes and friends.

Apple may seem like, oh, let’s call our company after a familiar piece of fruit, as seen in its logo. But the apple was also the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and, as the logo shows, somebody took a bite. Computers sure seem like inventions by creatures daring to play God.

Even Google, which sounds like babbling baby talk,  has fitting connotations. A googol is a huge number, a 1 followed by 100 zeroes. This idea of almost infinity fits its search aspirations, and 1’s and 0’s suggest binary code, the stuff behind the whole digital realm, including search-engine algorithms.

Interesting that Google spawned a bigger-umbrella parent company, Alphabet.  Since Google searches are based on words, it fits in its own elemental way. Not great, not memorable, but definitely easy and inoffensive.

Google+, on the other hand, is a bit of a clunker.  A social network should suggest people, not numbers. Why not Gaggle, as in a group of geese, with echoes of Google? Because of “gag” jokes? Giggle is interesting, with hints of laughter, sociability and even music (the gig part) and computers (giga).  Maybe it goes too counter to Google’s solemn repository ambitions? Again, it would tempt journalists to make cracks about Giggle being laughable, but I don’t know. Seems like a fun, attention-getting name to me.

Actually, best might have been a byproduct of Google+, Google Circles, referring to social circles.

Of course, some names are catchy coinages with few associations. Why Camry? Do we subconsciously notice it’s an anagram of My Car? Why Etsy? Sounds like et cetera, looks like and in French with a play on yes in Spanish? Close to artsy? Answer eludes this dude but I like the name. Why Tumblr? Because our minds are like contraptions that spin and let tumble out all sorts of ideas?

Don’t know, don’t need to know. Point is, all sorts of names will work. Short is good, with two syllables and baby talk simplicity and baby talk simplicity (think Barbie, Oprah, eBay, Yahoo) possibly adding catchiness. Just keep in mind that the less self-explanatory, the less suggestive, the more you’ll be relying on word of mouth, going viral or advertising to make it click and stick in people’s minds.

Next time: Let’s invent some names.

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